Belfast Telegraph

Larne manager admits club's interest in Cliftonville striker Ruaidhri Donnelly

 

Cliftonville striker Ruaidhri Donnelly has scored six Danske Bank Premiership goals so far this season.
Cliftonville striker Ruaidhri Donnelly has scored six Danske Bank Premiership goals so far this season.

By Graham Luney

Larne have confirmed their interest in signing Cliftonville striker Ruaidhri Donnelly but it's still unclear whether a deal can be done this month.

The arrival of frontman Michael McCrudden at Solitude could edge Donnelly closer to the exit door and the Inver Park side are keen to get the transfer over the line.

The 27-year-old is out of contract at the end of the season and the Reds would expect a transfer fee if he moves this month.

If Donnelly doesn't move in January, he could sign a pre-contract deal with Tiernan Lynch's side.

"We make no bones about being very interested in Ruaidhri Donnelly," admitted Lynch. "Whether a deal can be done in January or not I don't know."

Larne have brought in Dean Jarvis from Dundalk and one or two English players may be added to the squad in loan deals.

"We have three or four irons in the fire," added Lynch, who was unable to land Glenavon's Rhys Marshall with the versatile player leaving to join FAI Cup champions Shamrock Rovers.

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Larne are back in Danske Bank Premiership action tonight, hosting Carrick Rangers, while title rivals Coleraine and Crusaders clash at the Showgrounds.

Coleraine are third in the table on 47 points, with Crusaders fifth on 46. The game, live on BBC2, is also a dress rehearsal for next month's BetMcLean League Cup final.

The top six clubs are all packing a punch, making it one of the most competitive title races in years.

For some Larne players, it’s a first taste of the Irish League’s top flight this season and Lynch says the game’s critics are being silenced.

“I don’t care what anyone says, people can be critical of the Irish League but it is a very unique league,” he added.

“People will look at it and say the quality isn’t there but my response would be ‘try and play in it and you’ll see the quality’.

“I think there are so many good teams this season and it’s probably the first year I’ve been involved when it’s obvious that bottom can beat top. That’s been shown.

“I would talk to a lot of English clubs and the biggest criticism of the league is that it’s very back to front. There is an element of that but I really believe it’s starting to change. There’s four or five teams in there who want to get the ball down and knock it around.

“I think it’s a great league. You talk to players like Mark Randall, Ben Tilney and Jeff Hughes, who have played at a higher level, and they will tell you it’s a lot more difficult than what you think.”

It’s a tough challenge to go on a winning run in this league but that’s what Lynch is targeting to keep pace with the big guns.

And the former Glentoran coach will demand a better showing from his men than on Boxing Day when the east Antrim derby finished scoreless.

“If truth be told, we played them on Boxing Day and I felt they deserved more than a draw, they were better than us on the day,” said Lynch.

“It’s very rare to hear me say that of our boys but we weren’t good and Carrick were better. They worked harder than us and we let ourselves down.

“I want more wins, like every manager. I think anyone that can put a winning run together will be in a good place because that’s a hard thing to do in this league.

“That’s why the Glens are doing well, they have been in good form. We always knew it would be extremely difficult to step into a league and compete when half our players didn’t know the league. There is a little frustration on our part because we have drawn a few matches and if we could have turned those into wins we would be in a much better place.

“There were three drawn games at home and had we won them it could have put us in the mix near the top. We should have got more out of the games at Windsor and Solitude. I also felt we deserved to win the home game with Cliftonville but it wasn’t to be and that’s been our achilles heel.”

In the Championship, Ards have signed 24-year-old former Dundee United, Montrose and Dungannon Swifts defender Adam Harwood. Dundela have snapped up left back James McCarthy on loan from Glentoran.

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