Bangor 0 Larne 5
Lee Feeney believes there are exciting times ahead in the Danske Bank Premiership as he plots Bangor’s return to the top flight.
Investment in the Irish League’s top clubs has never been greater, as seen in the past two transfer windows, with full-time football now being offered to the country’s top young players.
For Feeney, who himself was once a rising star at Linfield and Glasgow Rangers, admits he would love to have had the same opportunities as a teenager.
The now Bangor boss saw first-hand the benefit of full-time football when his Seasiders came up against Larne in Saturday’s Irish Cup first round tie, with the Invermen running out 5-0 winners.
“I was talking with Michael Halliday over the last few weeks and we were saying wouldn’t it be a great time to be a footballer now,” Feeney reflected.
“When we were young and playing Irish League football you could only have dreamt of these opportunities.
“The thing about Larne is they have a lot of full-time footballers who have been professionals their whole life.
“They grew up in that environment and that rubs off on everyone else.
“The league is in a good place at the minute, with the likes of Larne, Linfield, Glentoran and Crusaders all giving kids the opportunity to be full-time footballers.”
Bangor will return to their bread and butter of the Premier Intermediate League next week as Feeney continues to target promotion to the Championship.
Their ultimate ambition is a return to top flight football, after dropping out of the Irish League altogether for two seasons, with a stint in the Ballymena & Provincial League.
“The chairman came in after Saturday’s game and said ‘isn’t this what it’s all about?’,” Feeney added.
“Everyone at the club is putting in every bit of effort to be in that top league again, although we know it’s one step at a time.
“I do think the club deserve it, because of the size and stature. You don’t get there because of that alone though, you have to do it on the pitch.
“We’ll do our utmost to get the club in the Championship for next season which is the first step but days like Saturday are fantastic.
“I’m a bit hurt by the goals we conceded, but I think the result was inevitable. I know there are shocks in football, but I think the team we played is a quality side and joy to watch.
“Our players were singing their praises, but I want our players to learn from it and hopefully our club will one day be at that level.”