Jonathan Parr could have brought a deck chair and sat in the evening sun to watch his Warrenpoint Town colleagues embarrass Premiership side Donegal Celtic in Tuesday’s first-leg promotion play-off.
The 27-year-old goalkeeper had expected a busy time marshalling his net but instead became an admiring bystander at Milltown as the hosts secured a shock 1-0 victory and the upper hand ahead of tonight’s second-leg at Celtic Park (7:45pm).
It was Daniel Hughes’ 77th minute goal that gave the Championship One side a deserved victory, putting his club within 90 minutes of dumping the Belfast club out of the Premiership and achieving the dream of playing in it next season.
Parr said: “I expected a busy night but it didn’t materialise, and that’s down to the defence and how they kept Donegal Celtic’s front men quiet. I expect that will change at Celtic Park in the second-leg.
“We like to play the game with the ball on the ground and we did that against Celtic and really got at them. We would be confident of scoring at Celtic Park; if we get one, they will need three, and it will make things difficult for them. There’s no doubting that we will go into the second-leg with a view of winning it; our manager does not like us to sit back.”
The Rostrevor man, who plays between the posts for his town’s Gaelic football team, is glad he made the choice to “put soccer first” this season.
He added: “Sometimes it clashes and it can be hard to make a decision. A while back I had a club game against Longstone while Warrenpoint had to play Institute, and Rostrevor needed me.
“I told Rostrevor at the start of this season that I wanted to give Warrenpoint my focus and they accepted that. I’m not alone, there’s a lot of our players who have to make choices between gaelic football and soccer. In some ways it is a problem but I think the overall fitness of the team has benefitted, and that it was evident in the first-leg of the play-off.”
Parr, a penalty kick hero in Town’s stunning Irish Cup victory over this season’s beaten finalists Cliftonville, may be called upon again on Friday should this play-off go undecided in normal time.
He said: “I’m not willing to get ahead of Friday’s game but I do think we are ready for the Premiership and would only be short of a few signings to compete at that level. If it doesn’t happen for us this season, I would fancy us to go up next season.”
Admission to Friday’s second-leg promotion/relegation play-off between Donegal Celtic and Warrenpoint Town is just £5, while U16s are free.