Ballinamallard United chief Whitey Anderson has hailed the contribution of Sligo duo Stephen Feeney and Jason McCartney after his watching team ease their Danske Bank Premiership relegation worries.
The Mallards have catapulted up the table to eighth place and, they’ll be looking to keep the momentum going when they face Glenavon at Mourneview Park tomorrow.
Anderson admits Feeney and McCartney have been invaluable in United’s league revival.
“This is their fifth season with the club,” he said. “They joined us when we were in the Championship. Stephen is now the club captain.
“They have shown great dedication. They live in Sligo. It takes them over an hour to get to us at Ballinamallard. Sometimes its a 12-hour round journey for them , if we’re playing in Belfast or beyond.
“They just love the place. They refer to us as a unique club – they love the family atmosphere at Ballinamallard. They are two great lads.
“What does slightly irritate me is people stating that we are in a great catchment area in terms of players. “They forget that these boys are travelling from Sligo for training. We also have lads coming from Londonderry, which is a good two hour journey..
“I don’t think there are too in the Belfast area that will travel out of the city to train.”
Although they are now Premiership regulars, Anderson takes nothing for granted.
He adds: “People would say that we are now an established club, but it will take another few years before we are established.
“We know what relegation can bring. You just have to look at the clubs in the bottom half of the Championship – the likes of Institute, Lisburn Distillery and Donegal Celtic, who occupy the bottom three positions. They are all former Premiership clubs.
“But we are on a great journey and we are all enjoying it.
“This league is very simple. You win two or three games, it shoots you up the table. Lose two or three and you can find yourself slumping into the relegation area.”
Anderson admits his boys will need to be at their best when they make the trip up the M1, adding: “I actually think that Glenavon will be genuine title challengers if they keep going they way they are.
“Gary(Hamilton) has got some great young players and he is in a position to bring in quaity players.
“If you’ve got pace an desire in this league, you will not be far away.”
Glenavon boss Hamilton will be missing striker Kevin Braniff, who limped off during last weekend’s draw at Cliftonville because of a hamstring injury.