Belfast Telegraph

Dungannon's new teenage star can become a top Irish League player, says Lindsay

Ballymena Utd 2 Dungannon S 2

Young gun : Oisin Smyth (centre) celebrates a precious point for Dungannon
Young gun : Oisin Smyth (centre) celebrates a precious point for Dungannon

By Billy Weir

Oisin Smyth - remember the name.

The 18-year-old announced himself to the wider footballing world on Saturday afternoon with a cameo display that ended in fairytale fashion as he pounced to put a dent in Ballymena United's title challenge.

And no one would begrudge Dungannon Swifts a share of the spoils, coming as it did, having to play the final 20 minutes with 10-men after Dougie Wilson's daft lunging tackle on Jim Ervin.

His departure signalled the arrival of the new kid on the block and he showed, not just a calm head on youthful shoulders in midfield, but also an eye for goal as he pounced to hammer home a late equaliser for the Swifts.

It was the very least Kris Lindsay's side deserved having twice come from behind and with a little more composure in front of goal right at the death, could have won it.

Jude Winchester's sumptuous strike gave United the lead four minutes before the break before the otherwise excellent Scot Whiteside gave Daniel Hughes to chance to pounce just past the hour and he needed no second invitation to round Ross Glendinning and slide home from a tight angle.

Goal sniffer supreme Cathair Friel restored United's lead with a quarter of an hour to go, but moments later Smyth knocked home the rebound from Paul McElroy's shot and manager Kris Lindsay believes, while it may be the first time we've heard of him, it certainly won't be the last.

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"He came on and got his goal, but I thought that apart from his goal he did so well," he commented.

"He's so composed on the ball and kept in really well in good areas.

"Since I've come in we've tried to filter him in and out, he's still young. He started against Crusaders down at Seaview, he came off the bench in a few big games against Linfield and a few others, and he's done well. I've every hope that he's going to become a top Irish League player. He and Cathal McGinty both signed contracts not too long ago and I have every faith that Oisin is going to be a major player for us next year.

"Yes, we'll look after him, break him in nice and gently this year, and hopefully he'll hit pre-season running and stake a claim for a starting berth next year because he is quality.

"He causes us no problems, he trains ever so well, has a good head on his shoulders and he comes from a good family.

"At times in centre midfield it can be a battlefield in there and you mightn't see too much of the ball at certain times, but it's a learning curve and any time we've dipped him in he has been excellent, so we'll continue to do that for the remainder of the season."

As for United boss David Jeffrey it was a maelstrom of emotions, frustration at twice surrendering leads coupled with a hefty dollop of relief that they didn't lose the game right at the death.

"When you are in the ascendancy you have to make sure you capitalise and we came out and started the second-half brightly and the reality is we were comfortable at that stage," he said.

"With respect Dungannon weren't putting us under any pressure, they were dangerous on the counter-attack but I thought at that stage we were nice and solid and then we gave them a gift.

"No one can argue that Dungannon didn't deserve a point, absolutely not and congratulations to them.

"The last time a point against Dungannon was very much a point gained and probably there is a contrary feeling because I do feel it was an opportunity missed to get the three points and yet when I think of the last couple of minutes, I am glad we got the point."

Belfast Telegraph


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