Belfast Telegraph

Tragic loss of Jerry Thompson has hit former team-mates at Larne hard, says Jeff Hughes

Tough week: Jeff Hughes has spoken of his shock
Tough week: Jeff Hughes has spoken of his shock

By Steven Beacom

Larne captain Jeff Hughes has admitted that it has been a difficult week for the players at the club following the shock death of former team-mate Jerry Thompson.

During his time at Larne, Thompson was a popular figure in the dressing room before he moved to Portadown last year. He eventually joined what turned out to be his final club Carrick Rangers in the summer.

Larne FC will be well represented at this morning's funeral for Jerry before playing at home to Coleraine in the Danske Bank Premiership this afternoon.

Speaking to the club website, respected Larne skipper Hughes said: "All of the boys were shocked. We couldn't believe the news that came through on Tuesday evening.

"During the short time that I was with Jerry at the club, I knew straight away that he was a good, genuine guy.

"Within the dressing room we have boys who have played with Jerry through most of their careers and others who have been friends with him since childhood so as you can imagine, it is a difficult time for a lot of our boys.

"I would like to take this opportunity to offer sincere condolences to the family from myself and everyone connected with Larne Football Club."

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On Wednesday in a team meeting, Larne boss Tiernan Lynch felt it was important that the players spoke about their memories of Jerry. The club will pay its respects prior to the game with Coleraine.

Amazingly, Larne have not beaten the Bannsiders in a home league fixture since 1993.

Last season in the Irish Cup, the sides played out a thriller at Inver Park before Coleraine emerged victorious. Earlier in this campaign, they drew 0-0 in a league clash at the Showgrounds.

"We know we have to expect a tough game against Coleraine, who have been up towards the top of the table all season long," stated Hughes.

"We believe that we have the quality within our team to get a better result than the draw at the Showgrounds earlier in the season, but it's up to us to go show that on the pitch."

Larne enter the encounter in sixth position with Lynch feeling that the players have now come to terms with life in the top flight.

The squad looks a little light, especially in attack, so expect new signings in January.

Coleraine are also in the market to add quality to their squad next month. After drawing 2-2 at home to Glentoran last weekend they are now second in the league, behind Linfield on goal difference.

Manager Oran Kearney has been happy with his side's efforts but will be keen that the Bannsiders return to winning ways on the road in the Premiership having lost at Institute and Warrenpoint in recent weeks.

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