Crucial test for Braid
Published 03/11/2007 | 12:23
The old cliche of football being more important than life or death has been all too tragically proven to be bunkum lately.
The untimely deaths of children on both sides of the border has shown the risks the seemingly young and fit can face from cardiac complaints.
So while Ballymena United look to build on their morale-boosting win over Portadown by notching up a win over Armagh City at Holm Park, they have an even more important date tomorrow.
The Braidmen will be the first Irish League outfit to undergo echo and ECG tests at the University of Ulster Clinic, Jordanstown, under the watchful eye of the CRY organisation.
United assistant manager, Jim Grattan, who is the IFA's Child and Player Welfare Manager, has set the ball rolling on the initiative, and hopes to see other clubs following suit.
"It is now part of the UEFA licensing procedure for the new Irish Premier League that every first team player must go under these tests," he explained.
"Every club will have to do this, and it's good that Ballymena are leading the way in this, with the club meeting the bill.
"By the end of March 2008 all clubs will have to do this and at only £35 per player it is money well spent if it can save even one life."
Back to matters on the pitch and Sky Blues' boss Tommy Wright is refusing to get carried away by last weekend's result.
He refutes that United will go in as favourites and has his players well warned.
"In a perverse sort of way, the run we've had will make them even more determined," he said.
"If we lose at Armagh, draw at Limavady or whatever, and you're back to square one and we don't want that."
United will be without the injured Aidan Watson and teenage defender Johnny Flynn, who has been on duty with the Northern Ireland Under-19 squad, but welcome back Aaron Callaghan to the panel.