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Larne Tech boss Hastings happy with club's progress


Larne Tech players celebrate during their recent win over Abbey Villa

Larne Tech players celebrate during their recent win over Abbey Villa

Larne Tech players celebrate during their recent win over Abbey Villa

Larne Tech OB may only have a slim chance of promotion, but their manager Johnny Hastings admits he is rather happy that his club are even in with an outsider’s hope right now.

This is the second season since the Upper Cairncastle Road men dined at the Amateur League’s top table, and while Hastings is hungry for the Tech to make their way back there, he also has the presence of mind to appreciate it may take some time and patience.

A pragmatic approach could be the way to go, and the measured tones of this former Larne Tech OB reserves manager and player, indicate that no-one will be kicking themselves if they don’t make it back up at this second time of asking.

He told The Park: “We will have a tough second half to the season, with nine out of our last 13 league games away from home. But we never really thought we were going to win the league or anything this season, and we would need to win most of those games to be in with a chance of us.

“We always wanted to be in the mix, though. I knew that Lisburn and Rangers coming up, Division 1A would be especially strong this year, and that anywhere in the top five or six would be good.”

There is no reason to think that the currently fifth-placed Tech can achieve that target at the very least. But who does Hastings tip to top the lot come May?

He replied: “On the performances of the teams that have played us so far, I would have to say Downpatrick, by a mile. They beat us 6-1 at home, and they made it to this season’s Border Cup final. We haven’t played Crumlin Star yet.”

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Last weekend, the Tech really kept themselves in the title conversation with an eye-catching 2-1 victory away to league leaders Abbey Villa.

In terms of momentum and belief, it could well turn out to be one of the key moments when they look back on the 2014/15 campaign.

Hastings continued: “That was a must-win game. We had to get three points to keep us in the pack, and we knew we couldn’t let them win.

“It is that type of league, where if you lose a few games, you can find yourself at the bottom end of things very quickly, although I have never been too concerned about relegation, because, without wanting to sound too big-headed, I do think we can beat anyone on our day.”

The Abbey Villa win “wasn’t pretty” by Hastings’ own admission, but results are what matter, and his side could well get the chance to do it all over again with a distinct possibility of the clubs meeting once again in the Clarence Cup.

The Tech are already through to round four and await the winners of the postponed third round tie between Villa and Derriaghy CC.

Whoever comes through, Hastings will simply be relieved not be clashing with one of their more familiar Premier Division opponents from recent cup competitions.

“We haven’t really done that well in the Cups,” reflected the manager with a wry smile. “For some reason we seem to draw Drumaness Mills and Crumlin Star quite a lot, so that has been quite tough.”

And although they have had to continue without the services of their previous captain, Robert Hunter, who sadly has retired after a serious leg break last year, the guidance of experienced heads like Paul Hardy, Niall Curneen, and Clifford Baston on the should ensure that it won’t be long until the good times are truly back at the Tech.