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Premiership title won't come down to a two horse race between ourselves and Linfield, believes Larne chief Lynch



Marty Donnelly celebrates his goal for Larne in their Premiership win over Linfield

Marty Donnelly celebrates his goal for Larne in their Premiership win over Linfield

�INPHO/Presseye/Stephen Hamilto

Marty Donnelly celebrates his goal for Larne in their Premiership win over Linfield

Larne manager Tiernan Lynch believes the title race will go right to the wire and he's determined to keep his squad well equipped for the challenge.

While champions Linfield have been lifted by Joel Cooper's return to Windsor Park, Larne are keeping a close eye on possible reinforcements as they aim to maintain their stunning start to the season.

The Invermen sit at the Danske Bank Premiership summit, one point ahead of the Blues and Lynch's side have a game in hand on their closest rivals.

Still unbeaten in the league after 10 matches, Larne will be back in action on January 2 at home to Ballymena United.

Elite sport can resume behind closed doors on that Saturday after Covid-19 restrictions forced the postponement of the fixtures on December 26 and 29.

Elite clubs can train next week, despite the strict lockdown.

After securing five impressive wins over Crusaders, Cliftonville, Coleraine, Glenavon and Linfield, Larne have finished the year with a bang.

Crusaders midfielder Rory Hale, who has handed in a transfer request, would be a welcome addition at Inver Park, but Cliftonville signalled their interest with a £20,000 bid for the player.

"We are definitely keen to strengthen but it can be hard doing business in mid-season," said Lynch. "Rory is a lad you would be keen to take but he's a Crusaders player.

"You are limited in what you can do. Linfield will strengthen in January, they have the resources to do that, while Glentoran have also been adding to their squad."

Lynch has laughed off claims the title race will be a two-horse sprint involving his side and Linfield.

"No way that will be the case," he said. "If you can finish above Linfield, you have a chance of winning the title, but there's a lot of good teams in the league who cannot be underestimated.

"Warrenpoint, Glenavon have improved, so you aren't just talking about teams at the top. I just don't see any team running away with the league.

"There's far too many good teams out there to say it's going to be a two-horse race.

"January could be a big month and all the teams could drop points. If you write off any of these teams, you do it at your peril.

"Anyone talking about champions now needs their heads examined! At Christmas last year Cliftonville were top of the league but they finished fourth.

"I'm really enjoying the challenge but staying focused on helping us to win games."


Tiernan Lynch

Tiernan Lynch

�INPHO/Presseye/Stephen Hamilto

Tiernan Lynch

Lynch has been greatly encouraged by the atittude and mentality of the players.

"What's pleased me the most is the players' attitude and work ethic," he added.

"They never talk about their achievements; their focus is on the next challenge.

"Our philosophy is we have to work harder tomorrow than what we did today. We feel if we can do that then it gives us a fighting chance."

Linfield voiced their concerns following a controversial three-match suspension dished out to striker Christy Manzinga, particularly after Larne striker David McDaid did not receive retrospective action for a tackle on Jamie Mulgrew during the 2-1 home victory at Inver Park.

Referee Ian McNabb saw nothing wrong with the challenge but the Blues felt it was a red card offence.

"Watch the game back and look at the reaction of Linfield players, none of them run to the referee, in fact Kyle McClean got on the ball and played on," said Lynch.

"I never thought the player was in trouble. Davy is a whole-hearted player but, in my opinion, there was no nastiness and I think he got the ball first. It may have looked bad.

"The incident with Christy Manzinga involved a punch and was different."

Cliftonville, meanwhile, have signed 28-year-old goalkeeper Aaron McCarey from Dundalk.

Belfast Telegraph

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