Belfast Telegraph

Darren Mullen: My Newry City players are committed to relegation fight

Newry City AFC Manager Darren Mullen
Newry City AFC Manager Darren Mullen

By Gareth McCullough

Newry City AFC boss Darren Mullen said his side won't give up the fight as they look to escape automatic relegation from the Danske Bank Premiership.

City, who achieved a remarkable four promotions in five seasons to reach the top flight after reforming in 2013, must beat Dungannon Swifts at home on Saturday, whilst hoping neighbours Warrenpoint Town can give them a hand by getting the better of Ards just four miles down the road. They also need a four-goal swing to occur in their favour if they are hold any hope of remaining in the top flight for successive seasons.

Ahead of last night's 2-1 defeat away to Institute, Mullen was forced to drop three first-team regulars - Declan Carville, Stephen Hughes and Mark McCabe - for disciplinary reasons. While McCabe will return to the squad for this weekend's crucial clash, Mullen confirmed that both Carville and Hughes have played their last games for the border club.

"We're down now to a group of players who are committed to the club and who have shown that commitment. We have three signs on the wall of the changing room at the ground - Respect, Discipline and Commitment. I ask all players to adhere to those principles, and if you don't then you won't play," Mullen explained.

"We've been put in a difficult situation this week and we're now down to those who are committed to the club. The one thing I can't fault the players for this year is effort. Yes, there have been times when I've been frustrated and we haven't played well, but they've never given up and they've never stopped trying.

"Some of our quality should have been better and, from my behalf, the recruitment needs to be better. Whatever happens on Saturday, that's something we're already working on. But we'll have a squad on Saturday who I know will give their all for us. Those that aren't there on Saturday, in the grand scheme of things in my mind, it's no loss."            

While they are still going to be reliant on Stephen McDonnell's side doing them a favour at Milltown, Mullen knows that his side have to do their own job on Saturday and he wants his players to take inspiration from their recent victories over Ards and Warrenpoint.

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"We know that we have to go and win the game and win it by a certain margin, so of course, we're going to have to pay some heed to what's going on at Milltown. But it won't be gung-ho and shapeless where everybody pushes up and we pump long balls in. It has to be done in the right manner and I'm hoping it's something like the Ards game and the first half of the Warrenpoint game," said the City manager. 

"There's nothing to say that it can't happen. While we're disappointed with the result last night, we're ruling nothing out.
There's nothing beyond the realms of possibility that says we can't go and beat Dungannon by a couple of goals and Warrenpoint can't beat Ards. It's a difficult task and there's no point in saying any different, but there have been a lot tougher tasks in football achieved than this one.

"We haven't been finishing the chances we've been creating and, at this level, you don't get too many and you have to take them. We conceded soft goals. We've scored the least and conceded a lot too and I keep saying that the table doesn't lie. But it's still possible in the last game of the season and it leaves us with a bit of hope. All we can do now is focus on beating Dungannon."

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