Larne manager Tiernan Lynch reckons he just might have the best goalkeeper in the Irish League at his disposal.
Shot-stopper Conor Devlin was visibly upset to lose his long-standing unbeaten record when a late Caolan Loughran penalty halted Larne’s run without conceding a league goal at 630 minutes.
However, it was a finger-tip save at the start of the second half, somehow denying Lloyd Anderson’s header, that proved pivotal to keep Larne in front and go a long way to sealing a 2-1 win at Carrick.
“Conor has that in his locker,” said Lynch. “On his day, I think he’s the best goalkeeper in the Irish League. We watch him do that day in, day out. We’ve got Conor back to his best right now. He’s in a good place.”
Devlin had been central to that long run without conceding, which had stretched back to January and Jordan Stewart’s opener for Linfield in a game that Larne won 3-1.
“The spine of our team has that solidity in (Jeff) Hughes, (Albert) Watson and Devlin,” said Lynch. “There are a lot of games and trophies in there. Hopefully that’s the type of defence that is going to move us that little bit closer this year and close the gap.”
And that’s not to mention summer signing Josh Robinson, who looks immediately at home in Larne’s back line.
“As dominant as Harry Flowers was in the air last season, he didn’t know Irish League football,” said Lynch. “Josh is that Irish League centre-half, wants to defend, win balls in the air and probably the most impressive part is how much he wants to get better. Every day’s a school day for Josh. He comes to training at absolutely 100%. Having that leadership and mentality is now spreading through the team.”
Now the clean sheet clock is reset.
“If there’s any part of today that had a little dark cloud, it was probably that,” said Lynch about the beaten 630 minute record. “Mark (Randall) was deeply disappointed in giving away the penalty. He heard the call to hook, went to clear the ball and didn’t see the man. He caught him and fair enough it was a penalty.
“There was definitely an element of disappointment after the game.
“We got what we wanted with the win but because they’ve worked so hard at keeping clean sheets, which we talk a lot about, it definitely tarnished it a bit. That’s a great trait to have. It’s something we’ll build on.
“We go again.”