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Fearless Newry ready to mix it with the best by beating Carrick, claims Mullen

 

By Steven Beacom

Newry City manager Darren Mullen says his side have nothing to fear against top flight Carrick Rangers in the first leg of the promotion/relegation play-off tonight (7.45pm).

Since the introduction of the system in which a Championship side takes on a Premiership team to secure a place in Northern Ireland's big league, the latter have largely dominated.

Mullen is out to buck the trend at home this evening and in next Wednesday's return at Carrick.

The 46-year-old is in his fifth season as boss and has become an inspirational figure for the border club, who finished behind already-promoted champions Institute in their division.

Mullen has guided his players from the Irish League's fifth tier, Mid-Ulster League Intermediate B, to within two games of taking on Linfield, Crusaders, Glentoran and Cliftonville on a regular basis.

And all this after overseeing the formation of Newry City AFC after Newry City's IFA membership was terminated following a High Court winding up order in 2012.

The new Newry may play at the Showgrounds, but it's worth pointing out they have no legal link to the former Newry City.

What has happened in such a short time is remarkable. It would be a fairytale story if they could go up, but David McAlinden's side, having fought so hard to make the play-off, won't give up their Danske Bank Premiership spot easily.

"There has been a real buzz around the club and the city this week," explained Mullan, who yesterday was in schools handing out free tickets for tonight's game.

"Our attitude will be to go and win both games.

"It will be very difficult because Carrick are a Premiership side and have the experience of playing at a higher level. They are favourites but we are going into the tie with no fear.

"If we were to do it, it would be massive for everyone involved and it would be great to see the joy on people's faces.

"When we were wound up it wasn't as if there was a multitude of people waiting to pick the club back up. It was a small group of people. To see those fans, volunteers, players and staff have the experience of top flight football would be terrific."

Newry City vs Carrick Rangers

Promotion/relegation play-off first leg

Newry Showgrounds, Tonight, 7.45pm

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