Irvine back in groove after his injury hell
One year on from fracturing his skull on Irish Cup Fifth Round day, Larne manager David McAlinden believes midfielder Scott Irvine is now a better player than ever.
Today, Larne travel to Lakeview Park to face Loughgall, 364 days after their Irish Cup tie with Carrick Rangers at Inver Park was abandoned when Irvine was knocked unconscious after a collision with a perimeter wall.
Irvine's life hung in the balance as he received lengthy treatment on the Inver Park pitch before being rushed to the Royal Victoria Hospital. Despite suffering a fractured skull and spending several weeks recovering in hospital, midfielder Irvine returned to first-team action in September and he is expected to play in today's fifth round clash with Loughgall.
McAlinden is thankful that Scott's recovery was such a success.
"I didn't even realise it had been a full 12-months until my scout pointed it out to me earlier in the week," he said.
"It's fantastic how far Scott has progressed in such a short period of time. If you had offered anyone this outcome just after the incident they would have taken it, as it was a terrifying situation. Not only has Scott got a great quality of life, he has also returned to the team and he is back to being an important player for us."
McAlinden believes Irvine has become a more thoughtful player since returning from injury.
"I think Scotty is actually a better player than he was before the injury," he added.
"Scott was always someone who got stuck in and tried and steamroller his opponent.
"Now he's a more considered footballer and he will think before he goes into a challenge."