As Larne secured a vital point thanks to a late Ross Black goal at Celtic Park, their new manager David McAlinden watched on from the stands.
The former Cliftonville and Carrick Rangers centre-back retired from football last season after picking up a nasty injury with his last club Ards. Now, at the age of just 30, the qualified coach has taken the reigns of one of the Championship's biggest clubs.
A delighted McAlinden said: “Larne are a big club who have underachieved in recent years, so this is a fantastic opportunity for me.
“I'm not into cliches, but you could say Larne are a sleeping giant. It's a football town and a club with plenty of potential, and I'm looking forward to working with the players. I think the fact that the club was one of only four that applied for a Championship licence shows that the ambition is there.”
While McAlinden was a centre-back by trade, in many ways he was an attack-minded player. He attacked the ball in the air, scored goals from set- pieces and pushed his team forward whereever possible. The big man says he will take that same passion into the dugout.
“It might sound strange coming from a defender, but I prefer attacking football. Even though I played at the back, I always looked to get forward and score goals, and I will want my team to do exactly the same thing.
“I've no interest in putting 11 men behind the ball – I want to have a team that is well organised and defends well - but I want to get men into the box and cause opponents problems. There is a lot of hard work to do, but I'm confident we can get things going in the right direction.”
After hanging up the boots, McAlinden spent the majority of 2013 at his old club Cliftonville, coaching their reserve side. The former Glenavon man believes his experience both at Solitude and as a player will stand him in good stead for the challenges of management.
“Any manager I've worked under has always complimented me on my leadership qualities in the dressing room, and some have told me I'd make a good manager, so it's time for me to put that into action.
“It's no secret that I've always had designs on being manager and getting involved in coaching. Some may say I'm very young to be a manager, but I don't see any reason to hold back. I gained some experience with Cliftonville Olympic and I'm ready to take the Larne job.”
McAlinden is no stranger to the Championship. He won the division with Carrick Rangers in 2011 and was part of the Ards side that reached last season's Steel & Sons Cup final, before succumbing to an injury.
On Saturday, he watched as his new team drew 1-1 with Donegal Celtic. Former Bangor man Conor Glenholmes opened the scoring for the home side in the 80th minute, but Larne equalised just before the final whistle thanks to a strike from the experienced Ross Black.
McAlinden believes it was a good point for Larne, who currently sit 12th in the table, just three points above the drop zone.
“Donegal Celtic is a tough place to go at the best of times, so a draw there is a good result. It gave me a chance to have a look at my players, but the lads will have more opportunities to show me what they can do in training and in matches.”
McAlinden's first game in charge of the Invermen will be against Ballinamallard United Reserves in the Coca-Cola Intermediate Cup.