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Leeman is relishing his chance to pit his wits against the best

By Graham Luney

If Tommy Leeman fails to blast Larne up the Carnegie Premier League table, it won't be down to a shortage of enthusiasm.

The east Belfast man, who has replaced Paul Curran in the Inver Park hot-seat this week, has the same burning desire to succeed as a manager in local football's top flight as he did when he tortured rivals in Glentoran colours.

As a player he was a winner who pocketed two Irish Cup medals and he has already grabbed silverware as a manger, guiding H&W Welders to Intermediate Cup glory in April this year.

But after coaching spells at St Mirren - where he spent three years looking after youth teams - Stirling Lions in Australia, the Welders and most recently, Shankill United in the Amateur League, Leeman has finally been given the opportunity to outwit the best managers in Northern Ireland.

The 43-year-old, who will meet his new squad for the first time at training tonight, says he can't wait to embarrass the bosses he learnt so much from.

"I've played under some of the top managers and coaches in the game like Ronnie McFall, Roy Coyle, Alfie Wylie, Tommy Jackson, David Jeffrey, Paul Malone and Billy Johnston and I've also worked with former Liverpool player Steve McMahon and Mickey Lyons," he said.

"I'm very excited and just as a player when you dream of playing at the highest level, you want to be a manager at as high a level as you can.

"I'm not saying that I will definitely bring trophies to Inver but that's the target.

"I will give 100 per cent commitment to the job and I expect the players to do the same.

"I don't want to see Larne struggling at the wrong end of the table and clubs like Armagh City and Limavady United have shown that with the right attitude, you can get results.

"What's important is we start getting the results that spreads confidence around the club. I don't settle for second best and I don't want to see dead wood around anywhere.

"I've two Irish Cup winners' medals from the Glentoran victories over Linfield and Coleraine so I was a winner as a player and as a manager, winning the Intermediate Cup with the Welders was a highlight after also reaching the Steel & Sons Cup final.

" And we also gave Ballymena United a difficult game in the Irish Cup."

Leeman's new assistant is Chick Wilson who worked under Paul Kirk at Lisburn Distillery and Tommy Cassidy at Ards.

And the new man in charge is exploring the possibility of keeping transfer-listed striker Marty Verner at the club.

"I trust Chick and I know that Johneen Black was assistant to Paul (Curran) but I don't know much about him and I'll have to take a fresh look at the coaching side of things," he added.

" I will be embarking on a full review of the club and squad and I will speak to Marty to see what his thoughts are. I've inherited a situation which I don't know much about and Marty is a player who needs stability in his career."

The former Glentoran favourite is still recovering from the shock of this week's events.

"I had no inkling I was going to get the Larne job until the club contacted me around mid-day on Monday," he added.

"I had been helping out Jackie Pollock at Shankill United and things were going great. It's still a big shock for me but I'm very excited by it."

Belfast Telegraph


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