Belfast Telegraph

Dungannon Swifts now have the quality for top six finish, says Hazley

By Gareth McCullough

Dungannon's Matt Hazley believes that his side are good enough to claim a top six finish in this year's Danske Bank Premiership following the opening day win over Warrenpoint Town.

The former Crusaders, Newry City and Gretna midfielder was the hero for Darren Murphy's men, scoring their first and final goals – the latter with just two minutes to go – to seal all three points against the plucky newly-promoted outfit.

While Hazley played down his personal contribution to the win, getting the Swifts off to a flying start was just the tonic the side that finished third-bottom last time out required.

"I didn't think I was in the game that much at times but I took the two goals well and that was all I really had to do," he explained.

"I'm pleased. At times we did well as a team but individually, I was a wee bit disappointed with my performance. I thought I could have done a bit more but that's what you have to try to do in this league – you always have to strive to do better.

"'Murph' said before the game to go out and get the three points and that's what we did. The performance could probably have been better but we have the three points and we'll move onto next week."

After Kenny Kearns had put the Premiership new boys in front, Hazley swept home the equaliser from the penalty spot right on half-time.

David McCullough then headed the Swifts in front on 51 minutes but just when it looked like Liam Bagnall's strike from distance had earned a point for Barry Gray's side, Hazley was again on hand to volley home the winner at the death.

While it's still very much a case of taking each game as it comes, the Banbridge native believes the quality is there to get the Swifts in the right half of the league table.

"We haven't really set any targets this year, which is quite strange," Hazley said.

"Usually, we would set targets to push towards the top six or finish higher than we did the previous season,"

"We have a new group of players together, we've kept a few good players and a few of the younger players have signed for another two years so I think the core is there.

"I think we've strengthened in the summer and we just want to do better than last season.

"I think we're better than the bottom three or four so we want to push on and try to make the top six. But we have to do better than we did last year.

"If we play the way we can play then we are a top six side, in my opinion.

"A few of our players have played across the water and if we play the way we know we can, week in, week out, then we can push towards there.

"Bottom three last season wasn't good enough, 'Murph' will tell you that himself.

"It was mediocre season. We played well at times but just didn't get the ball in the net. We've got good strikers in Darren Boyce and James Costello who will get us goals and help us push up the league."

Belfast Telegraph

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