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Aaron Callaghan is leading the race to secure Carrick job

By Graham Luney

Aaron Callaghan could be close to a return to management with Carrick Rangers. The Dubliner, who turns 50 today, remains firmly in contention to take charge at the Belfast Loughshore Hotel Arena.

Interim boss Glenn Taggart and former Portadown striker Matthew Tipton, who accepted a coaching role at Warrenpoint Town, are not in the running to become Kieran Harding's successor.

Harding, who was only appointed to the Carrick job in May after Gary Haveron resigned, quit last month with a parting shot at majority shareholder Michael Hughes, accusing the former Northern Ireland favourite of too much interference in team affairs.

The team has struggled to get out of first gear this season and they have only managed one win in 10 Danske Bank Premiership outings, with a 4-1 loss to the PSNI in the County Antrim Shield representing a real hammer blow.

While Haveron has stepped into the Glentoran hot seat, former Crusaders and Glenavon defender Callaghan, who was also interested in the Glens post, is understood to be keen on the Carrick position as well as former Oval coach Tiernan Lynch.

Former Republic of Ireland under-21 international Callaghan, who linked up with the Crues when they secured title wins in 1995 and 1997 under Roy Walker, has considerable managerial experience in the Republic with Athlone Town, Longford Town, Bohemians and UCD.

Glenn Taggart has taken interim charge of first team affairs, assisted by Under-20s manager Phil Lewis and Noel Dean.

"I didn't put my name forward as we have just welcomed a baby girl into the family and the timing wasn't really right," said Taggart.

"I've said to the players that we have a job to do and the club will make their decision.

"Other than our great win at Glentoran it's been a tough time for us and the most disappointing thing is that we haven't competed in some matches and lost some games by a significant margin.

"We haven't had a settled side and unfortunately Kieran's spell didn't work out.

"I know he said a few things after leaving the club and he will feel he is entitled to but I would perhaps have done things differently.

"People are quick to speak their mind in the modern game and you might say fair play to them but my view is that some things are best left unsaid, or said in private and Gary Haveron didn't have a go at anyone after leaving the club."

Rangers, who have lost six league games in a row, visit a Cliftonville side today that is still smarting from their 4-3 loss at Crusaders last weekend when a 3-0 lead was tossed away.

"It's up to myself and the backroom staff to ensure that what happened against Crusaders doesn't happen again and that's where character comes into the dressing room," said Lyttle.

"There were positives to take from that game as we battered them for an hour but there's no point doing that if you can't hold on to the lead. I felt devastated for the boys."

Haveron hopes to mastermind his first Glentoran win at home to Ballinamallard United and a spirited second half display in the 2-1 loss to Linfield last weekend hinted at a new sense of urgency on Mersey Street.

Ards, who are fifth, can move back into the top three if they win at home to Coleraine.

Bottom-placed Portadown, who have lost seven of their last eight Premiership matches, are away to Mid-Ulster rivals Dungannon Swifts.

Belfast Telegraph


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