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Warren Feeney silent on his Ards future as focus stays on surivival

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Teenage kicks: Jonah Heron is centre of attention after contributing to Ards taking the lead
Teenage kicks: Jonah Heron is centre of attention after contributing to Ards taking the lead

By Steven Beacom

Ards manager Warren Feeney has revealed his future at the club will be decided after the promotion/relegation play-off with Carrick Rangers or Portadown.

Feeney's side drew 1-1 at Warrenpoint Town on Saturday to secure 11th place in the Danske Bank Premiership.

On his debut, 16-year-old midfielder Jonah Heron played a key role for the visitors when his shot was turned in by team-mate Eoghan McCawl to give Ards the lead, with Philip Donnelly replying just after the break for the home side, who ended up in 10th.

The result completed an impressive revival for Feeney's team.

Taking over in February from Colin Nixon, the north Down outfit were in big trouble but, in his nine games in charge, the former Northern Ireland striker lost only two and crucially won eight points from their last 12 to finish the campaign strongly.

Asked about his future, Feeney stated: "I haven't thought about it.

"When I came in, I said let's give it to the end of the season and see what happens and that's still how I see it.

"I don't want anything to take away from the focus of keeping this club in the top division. We have two games to see where we go and that is my focus.

"I'm certainly enjoying it. The club have been brilliant to me and after the play-offs we will settle down, have a cup of tea and talk about my future then.

"For the play-off, we will show respect to whoever we play, be it Carrick or Portadown, but we are on a good run of form and will go into the games in a positive frame of mind."

Feeney will have no fears about throwing in his teenage star Heron once again.

At the weekend the Regent House schoolboy was initially on the bench before being promoted to the starting line-up when Calum Byers was injured in the warm-up.

Heron belied his tender years with a composed display and a big contribution which helped his team make the breakthrough.

Coming through the youth ranks at Ards, making his debut for the first team meant a great deal to the youngster.

"It was incredible," he said.

"I've been at Ards all my life so to make my debut for the first team was just amazing. This is my 10th year at the club and my first year with the senior team.

"The manager gives me a lot of confidence and believes in me. I'm very thankful to him that he gave me the opportunity to play against Warrenpoint. Now we have to deliver in the play-off to keep us up."

Warrenpoint manager Stephen McDonnell can feel proud of his first full season in charge.

They had strong runs in cup competitions, were safe with months to go despite a terrible start and played in an entertaining fashion.

"I would have liked Newry to survive because they are our neighbours, but unfortunately they haven't done enough over 38 games," he said.

"To be fair to Ards and Warren, they deserve to make the play-offs."

WARRENPOINT: Thompson, Moan, Reilly, Kelly (J Lynch, 80 mins), McCaffrey, M Lynch (Duffy, 39 mins), Scannell (O'Connor, 46 mins), Wallace, Donnelly, Macedo Marques, Young. Unused subs: Turker, McGrandles.

ARDS: Johnston, Kerr, McAllister (Bennett, 75 mins), Heron, Taylor, McLellan (Henderson, 65 mins), J Kelly (Shearer, 80 mins), Tommons, McAleenan, McCawl, McNulty. Unused subs: Davidson, M Kelly.

Referee: Shane Andrews (Comber)

Man of the match: Jonah Heron

Match rating: 6/10

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