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Josh Robinson determined to make Larne’s first ever European game a night to remember


Going on an adventure: Josh Robinson is fired up for Larne’s big night. Credit: INPHO/Stephen Hamilton

Going on an adventure: Josh Robinson is fired up for Larne’s big night. Credit: INPHO/Stephen Hamilton

©INPHO/Stephen Hamilton

Going on an adventure: Josh Robinson is fired up for Larne’s big night. Credit: INPHO/Stephen Hamilton

Larne defender Josh Robinson insists his team are determined to make it a night to remember when they make their European debut against Bala Town at the Park Hall Stadium tonight.

Tiernan Lynch’s boys finished their domestic season only on June 5 with a Uefa Conference League Play-Off win against Cliftonville which guaranteed them an historic European venture for the first time in the club’s 132-year history.

Although they enjoyed a successful 48-game domestic campaign which resulted in them winning the County Antrim Shield and reaching the Final of the Irish Cup, Lynch’s team had to settle for a fourth-place finish in the Danske Bank Premiership table.

But they reaped their rewards with that last-gasp win against Paddy McLaughlin’s Reds.

“We’re under no illusions, Bala have really strengthened their squad over the summer, they have signed around half a dozen players and have a lot of experience,” said the former Rangers, Crusaders and Linfield defender. “The good thing for us is it’s only a quick hop across the Irish Sea. We are not going deep into some European country, taking hours to get there.

“It’s the perfect tie for us in many ways, logistically. We are happy the travel aspect of it is handy. We are now hoping for a good positive result to get them back to Inver Park.

“We only had a couple of weeks off. I feel the group will be sharp and fit and ready for the challenge.”

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Robinson admits the players will have no problem adapting to the enormity of the occasion.

He added: “It’s another chapter in the journey under club owner Kenny Bruce, manager Tiernan Lynch and the backroom team. It’s the club’s first European appearance and it’s great to be involved.

“There is a buzz about the town and the club, although the fans are a bit devastated they’ll not be there to support us.

“It was a great end of the season for us. Yes, we had the disappointment of the Irish Cup final defeat (to Linfield), but we had the County Antrim Shield in the cabinet, and we qualified for Europe.

“A lot of teams would have bitten your hand off for that. We would have loved to have become the first Larne team to win the Irish Cup, but it didn’t work out for us.

“Thankfully, we had the Europa Conference League Play-Offs to fall back on. It was a great way to do it, practically with the last kick of the ball in the final game of the season.”

Lynch has been busy in the transfer market over the summer, signing goalkeeping pair Rohan Ferguson and Canadian Mike Argyrides. Defender Kofi Balmer arrived from Ballymena United while only this week experienced centre-back Cian Bolger also put pen to paper.

“Tiernan was in the transfer market again and we are now well covered defensively,” added Robinson. “I would say he’s not finished by any means. He’ll be looking at other areas to strengthen.

“Tiernan has done homework on Bala. It will then be up to the players to take on board the plan and hopefully we can make it a momentous occasion on our first European trip.”

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