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'I stick by my principles': Dean Shiels says Dungannon's Irish Cup win over Glenavon proves passing style can work in the Irish League


Glenavon boss Gary hamilton (left) congratulates Dean Shiels on Dungannon's Irish Cup victory.

Glenavon boss Gary hamilton (left) congratulates Dean Shiels on Dungannon's Irish Cup victory.

Glenavon boss Gary hamilton (left) congratulates Dean Shiels on Dungannon's Irish Cup victory.

Dungannon manager Dean Shiels says his side’s Irish Cup first round win at Glenavon is proof that his trademark passing style can work in the Irish League.

The new boss had lost 11 of his first 13 matches in charge of the Swifts before his side earned a 2-1 comeback victory at Mourneview Park, the ground that will host the semi-finals and final of this season’s tournament.

Despite going behind to an early Danny Purkis goal, the visitors put in a stunning performance after the half-hour mark, deservedly levelling through Ryan Mayse before the break and claiming a winner midway through the second half when Shane McGinty fired a fine strike into the bottom corner.

As Glenavon pressed late on, Shiels conducted his side over the line the only way he knows how, demanding a slick passing style, which was expertly delivered on the pitch with the boss bellowing that word ‘pass’ incessantly from the dugout.

Many have questioned whether or not the bold tactics can work in such a physical environment.

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But Shiels is determined to prove the doubters wrong.

“I've got my principles and I'll stick by them,” he said. “I firmly believe in them. I think we've proven tonight and in lots and lots of games this season that it can work. We've been lacking that bit of quality in the final third but tonight we had everything. We made the pitch big, we passed it. This is a really difficult place to come, I would say one of the most difficult away games you can get in this league.

“(Glenavon) are a very difficult game to contain but we showed a lot of character and togetherness today which has been lacking. That's what got us over the line. We played really good football but what got us over the line was the togetherness and the character of the group.”

Shiels could have been forgiven for watering down the style that even sees goal kicks passed only a few yards and outfield players forced the receive the ball under pressure inside their own half.

It would have been understandable after the recent run of results, and even mid-game at Mourneview after Glenavon dominated the opening 25 minutes and could have been further ahead.

But for Shiels, it’s not an option.

“You don’t compromise,” he said. “If I compromise I’ll start to the confuse the players.

"It feels great. I think we thoroughly deserved it tonight. We've been working hard in games, having really good spells and not getting over the line to win. Tonight we had the full package.

“(But) we haven't won anything tonight. It’s going to take time. Anything good and any success I’ve ever had in my life always took time and hard work and that’s what I’m trying to build now.

“(The Irish Cup) gives us a break from the league. We fear no-one, we will try and attack everyone and see where that takes us.”

Meanwhile, Ballymena United boss David Jeffrey says his side’s third goal summed up the performance that took his side into the second round thanks to a 4-1 home win over Portadown.

While Lee Bonis had briefly made it 1-1 for Portadown, Ballymena’s goals came from Ryan Waide, a Shay McCartan penalty and a brace from Paul McElroy, the second of which particularly pleased the boss.

“Probably what epitomised the performance was the third goal,” he said. “There was such bravery from young Shay McCartan, who put himself in there, won a header, got clattered and Paul McElroy reacted brilliantly.

“We’re absolutely delighted because Portadown were coming off a most impressive run and we’re delighted we’re in the hat for the next round.

“4-1 may appear somewhat harsh on Portadown because we knew how tough it was going to be and it proved that way. For long periods there was nothing between the teams but we were dogged and when you’re in the ascendency, you have to score goals.”

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