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Ambitious Malone keen to lift PSNI up into the Premiership

Grand plans: Colin Malone wants to lead PSNI into the top flight for the first time

By Gareth Hanna

For most of us, a call from the PSNI to interrupt a hard-earned holiday would be a most unnerving experience.

But Colin Malone is hoping a buzzing mobile during a Dubai break has launched a journey that will ultimately lead to the Danske Bank Premiership.

That initial phone call and subsequent discussions have paved the way for the former Glenavon boss to join Ian Campbell as joint-manager at PSNI FC and, as with any job the Lurgan man takes on, he brings great ambition.

His last post, a three-and-a-half-year stint at Lurgan Celtic, was filled with an openly-held dream of taking the club to the Premiership for the first time, until it ended abruptly when he left in March. Now that he has taken on a new role, it's reasonable to suggest he still carries the same drive, with PSNI also seeking a first spell in Northern Ireland football's top tier.

"When I was speaking to the club, I had to ask about Premiership football," he admitted. "When you take a job, you want to reach for that next level all the time so that was important."

While PSNI's current Newforge home would not meet the required standards to secure a Premiership licence, a plan to ground-share with an existing top-flight team is already in place, should the need arise in the immediate future.

And with a view to a long-term solution, moves to upgrade the club's own facilities are also afoot.

Malone continued: "If we can get a team together and keep them together then we have as good a chance as anyone."

Also arriving at the Championship side is former Carrick Rangers and Linfield Under-19 coach Phil Lewis.

While his task as head coach will be to work with the current crop, Malone is already directing his attentions to adding to the panel come the January transfer window.

"Ian (Campbell) will take care of all of the team selections for the next few weeks while I get a look at the squad and see what we have there," he said. "I've come up against them enough in recent seasons and know most of the players anyway but it will be good to see what we have and see what we can do in terms of strengthening the panel in the next window.

"I'm already making phone calls and getting things going. I'm not exactly sure of all of our strengths and weaknesses yet but there are a few players there who can give us a boost."

A busy festive period, then, awaits the new joint-manager. It will all be a far-cry from his autumn Dubai break

"The holiday was nice because I don't normally get the opportunity to do that but it's the bug, isn't it?" he said, explaining how he took little convincing to step back into the game after an eight month sabbatical. "You want to be doing it all day, every day so when the opportunity came, I took it. I've been about football for long enough to know that those chances can be few and far between.

"It's a good club and their pitch is a big part of it as well. It's a good, big pitch for playing football on."

The new additions to the set-up arrive after former assistant manager Jamesy Kirk resigned to end his five-year spell at the club.

Joint-manager Campbell said: "I'd like to thank Jamesy for his huge contribution to the club over the last five years. He will be a hard person to replace but our additions to the coaching team show our commitment to building on the foundations that Jamesy helped put in place. It's an exciting time for the club."

PSNI are just two points off their aim of a top-half position with the split fast approaching come the New Year. First up for the new management team is a visit of third-placed Newry City on Saturday afternoon.

Colin Malone's Managerial Profile

Clubs managed: Dungannon, Glenavon, Armagh, Banbridge Town, Loughgall, Lurgan Celtic

Managerial achievements: Two league titles (An unbeaten Championship season with Armagh City in 04/05 and a Championship Two win with Lurgan Celtic in 14/15). Four Bob Radcliffe Cups. One Mid-Ulster Cup. Led Glenavon to their joint-highest league finish since 1960 when they finished second in 00/01. Managed Lurgan Celtic to the Irish Cup semi-finals in 15/16.

Clubs played for: Glenavon, Portadown, Larne, Dungannon.

Belfast Telegraph

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