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Rodney McAree: Dungannon Swifts can fly high next season despite Mitchell's exit

 

By Billy Weir

Dungannon Swifts manager Rodney McAree admits that it will be a tough job to fill striker Andrew Mitchell's boots as the hitman moves on to Glenavon.

Mitchell was in tears at the end of Monday evening's defeat by Ballymena United in the Europa League Play-offs that brought the curtain down on his Swifts career, and the hard work starts now for McAree in trying to replace him.

"Andy Mitchell came off at the end of the game and he's very emotional and it shows what the club means to him," McAree said.

"We're not a big Irish League club, we don't have a lot of money, so I think the season has been hugely successful for us.

"I don't know where you get another Andrew Mitchell. It's up to us to work along with the squad of players in whatever formation that may be to get the best out of them, so it might be a case of changing our shape or being a wee bit different.

"I wish Andrew Mitchell all the very best, he has been a terrific guy since he came, terrific to work with and a joy to have about, and he's going to be hard to replace."

As for Monday's 5-2 defeat, where an outrageous piece of luck put the Swifts a goal down after a couple of minutes, and then they were reduced to 10 men soon after with Andrew Burns' needless tackle, it won't deflect from an excellent season for the Stangmore Park outfit.

"The start of the game kills you, the pitch is what it is and we said before the game that we wouldn't use it as an excuse, but I think the ball went in off Stuart Addis' head and he can't do anything about it," McAree added.

"That's a bad enough start and I don't know if it's a red card or not, but to give him that opportunity to send you off when you're one down in such a short space of time… it's a challenge that I don't think he needed to make at that stage of the game.

"To draw the second-half two-each I think at 4-2 if we'd scored again there would have been nerves creeping in.

"We kept going and I'm very proud of the players," added McAree.

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