Crusaders bagged maximum points against Newry City at Seaview to lift them to third position in the JJB Sports Premiership, but it was transfer talk which dominated the post-match interviews.
City boss Gerry Flynn launched a blistering attack on his striker Kyle Moran while Seaview supremo Stephen Baxter confirmed that his skipper Colin Coates would not be signing for Linfield this month.
However, the steam was coming from Flynn’s ears as he explained why former Derry City frontman Moran had slipped off his Christmas card list.
“There is one particular player who will not be here come Saturday – Kyle Moran,” said Flynn. “I’ll be making a decision and speaking to the board. His attitude absolutely stinks and I don’t want him anywhere near the club.
“Come Monday at the latest he won’t be here because he’s not the sort of player I want here. I would be surprised if another club come in for him, especially after they hear what I have to say. He was at Manchester United and he thinks he’s Pele but I don’t want him near the club.
“We will endeavour to keep our best players but the financial situation may dictate otherwise. A week is a long time in football and things can change but I will have to trim the squad.
“Dundalk have made an enquiry about Mickey Collins, Finn Harps and Stute are looking at Sean Friars, Dungannon (Swifts) came in for Stephen Garrett and Emmett Friars but we want to hold onto those two.”
There was more New Year cheer from Baxter who admitted that Linfield had made an enquiry about Coates but the response was swift and negative.
“Linfeld made an enquiry but we turned it down,” he said.
“We said he is going nowhere and Colin knows that. He loves it here, he is the captain of the club, an awesome talent and that is a complete no brainer. At some stage we will sit down with him and offer him a new contract.
“As for Martin Donnelly, he’s enjoying his football here and he has a decision to make regarding where he wants to play.
“Linfield have spoken to him but I’m hoping he will stay here and resurrect his career in England.”
Coates was suspended for this battle but new boy Hargan shone on his debut and Gary Smyth, at the tender age of 39, showed again how he must be sharing the same breakfast menu as Glenn Ferguson.
Two clinical first half strikes from Jordan Owens had the Crues coasting but Richard Clarke reduced the deficit after the break and the home side endured a nervous last 30 minutes after the dismissal of goalkeeper Chris Keenan.
CRUSADERS: Keenan, McKeown, Hargan, Marks, Magowan, Smyth, Coulter, Emerson, Dickson, Owens, Donnelly. Subs: Kerr (for Coulter 60), Rainey (for Dickson 64), Black (for Emerson 66). Subs not used: Caddell, McBride.
NEWRY CITY: Murphy, King, Black, Feeney, E Friars, Clarke, Garrett, Collins, Morgan, Donegan, Walsh. Subs: S Friars (for Black 70), Keegan (for King 77), Anderson (for Walsh 88). Subs not used: Curran, Haveron.
Referee: Mark Courtney (Dungannon).