Belfast Telegraph

Carrick boss Niall Currie rallies troops for Linfield clash in bid to seal 'Holy Grail' of survival

 

Watching brief: All eyes on the ball as Crusaders striker Jordan Owens slices Stephen Lowry’s shot into his own net
Watching brief: All eyes on the ball as Crusaders striker Jordan Owens slices Stephen Lowry’s shot into his own net

By Steven Beacom

Niall Currie has declared that staying in the Danske Bank Premiership is 'the Holy Grail' for Carrick Rangers.

Currie's side were tipped by many to be relegation fodder this season having come up through the play-offs last term but, remarkably, if they could pull off a shock victory at home to Linfield tonight they would be level on points with the champions.

Much of that may be down to the Blues playing catch-up with fixtures in the league due to their wonderful European run but, even so, such a scenario would offer Currie's men a monumental morale boost ahead of the rest of the campaign.

Linfield are odds on favourites to rip Carrick apart at the Loughshore Hotel Arena, but it's worth noting that the biggest surprise of all time in Irish League football came in 1976 when Carrick, then a junior side, beat Linfield in the Irish Cup final so the Blues won't be counting their chickens.

The Gers themselves have been stunned by lower division sides in cup competitions in recent weeks.

First they lost to Bangor in the League Cup, then came defeat to Harland & Wolff Welders in the County Antrim Shield, leading to a post-match inquest and a positive reaction last weekend with an impressive 3-0 success away to Warrenpoint Town.

"We had a big disappointment against the Welders and there were a few home truths outlined," said Currie.

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"Against the Welders from 1 to 11, we were absolutely abysmal and against Warrenpoint we had 1 to 11 who were excellent.

"For us, the league is the biggest thing. We don't want to go out of cup competitions but staying in the top division is the Holy Grail for us and we are giving ourselves a chance.

"We know there is a long way to go but we have beaten the two teams (Institute and Warrenpoint) within what I see as our wee league and that is a great sign.

"Being in the Irish Premiership this season, we are a year ahead of schedule and with that lots of people expect us to go straight down again. That's their opinion. We believe, though, we can stay up.

"It's often said we are hard to beat and I like that. There's no doubt we can mix it but I think we can play too when the situation is right and have threats that can hurt other teams.

"This game with Linfield is exciting for us. It's not a game that we should be fearful about. The match will be on Sky Sports, it is at our ground, there will be a large crowd and it will be a massive night for the club. Why wouldn't you want to be part of that?

"They are the top team in the country but if we have a really good night, we will cause them problems. The plan for us will be to be competitive and, if you get them on a bad night, you just never know."

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