Darren Murray’s future at Warrenpoint Town remains the subject of Irish League transfer speculation but his current manager, Matthew Tipton, has nothing but praise for the prized forward.
Warrenpoint rejected a transfer request by the striker late last week amid continued interest from high-flying Danske Bank Premiership clubs Crusaders and Coleraine.
The former Portadown and Cliftonville front man stepped out to face Ballinamallard United at Milltown on Saturday at the centre of January rumours - and with his focus on family matters.
“He played today for 90 minutes and all credit to him because his girlfriend was due to have their baby on Tuesday and he’s been in and out of the hospital all week with her,” said Tipton. “My phone was on, expecting a call from her.
“He’s come down and played and that shows me that Darren Murray wants to play for this football club because it would have been easy for him to stay at home.
“It shows to me that Darren’s mind is in the right place.
“Whatever happens after the weekend is anybody’s guess.
“I’m looking to add a striker to play, not to replace another one.
“We’ve already lost one in Stephen Murray, Lorcan Forde has come in and played centre-forward and done brilliantly but if Lorcan or Darren get injured then we’re down to just Darius Roohi.
“I’m looking for somebody else to bring in, possibly two, with a bit of luck something might happen very soon.”
Tipton was happy to turn his post-match attention away from transfer talk and on to the reward of three points thanks to Conor McMenamin’s first-half finish.
That single-goal success increased the gap between Warrenpoint and basement-based Ballinamallard to 10 points.
“The aim of the game is three points and it’s good to get them without playing brilliantly,” said Tipton. “I thought in the first half we were super and our attacking play was really good, plus organised and disciplined at the back.
“I think that carried on into the second half and, if we did make a mistake, there was someone there to rectify it.
“Overall, it’s pleasing because it’s a clean sheet, which we haven’t had too many of over the course of the season.
“Anto Reilly was outstanding at centre-back and I think with Keith O’Hara coming in too it gave us that bit of assurance at the back with his experience.
“But I thought Anto was magnificent, they were all good but especially the way he dealt with Stephen O’Flynn.
“He won every header, he stepped in, he received the ball and didn’t give him a minute’s peace, I was really pleased for him because he’s been in and out of the team quite a lot over the last few weeks.
“They were down to 10 men and we could have done better in possession but it doesn’t necessarily matter what we want, your mind will always take over and sometimes you think that if you defend and kick it forward there’s less chance of them scoring.
“We could have put our foot on the ball and retained it and taken the sting out of the game and relieved the pressure on us.
“But, at the end of the day, we kept a clean sheet and what the boys have done out there is proof that they’ve been right.
“The more points you get on the board, the harder it becomes for those teams below you because the games are running out and they have to win two more than you or four more than you to get there.
“Hopefully, we can kick on from today and get another couple of results quickly.”
Ballinamallard United boss Gavin Dykes picked up positives from his side’s second-half performance despite the dismissal of Ryan O’Reilly.
“In the first half we weren’t good enough because we kept giving the ball away, but I thought in the second half we were the better side.
“We passed it pretty well in the second half and, even when we went down to 10 men, I thought we were the better side.
“But you can’t give away the goals that we give away.
“We spoke about the corner-kick that they do, they did it three times and we were still switched off and got punished.
“We gave away a goal last week from a set-play as well and at this level you can’t do that.
“But it’s about getting the three points and we didn’t get anything.
“Everyone built this game up as a huge game, which it was, but you only get three points for it.
“That’s the way it is, we have to go and get ourselves sorted for next week against Cliftonville at home.
“We try and play the right way and in the second half we did that, as I say, I’m disappointed but we’ve just got to be positive and move on.
“It didn’t look like there was a lot of contact to me (for the red card), I’m going to say that anyway as I was a centre-half myself.
“But when you’re down the bottom, you just don’t get those breaks, it might have been a bit harsh but I thought we were more positive when we went down to 10 men because we left two up with three in the middle and we got the ball and passed it wide.
“I just felt things didn’t drop for us in the box, today it didn’t, last week it did and the week before it did so we’ve just got to be positive and push on next week.
“We can only do what we can do and we’re realistic about that, we’re four points behind Carrick and they have a couple of games in hand on us.
“But games in hand don’t count for anything, it’s points that matter, we can’t control what they do, every game is massive for us now.
“But I don’t fear anybody, I did in 2017 but not now, we have a good squad and we had some quality players out today and left some quality players on the bench. “What annoyed me today was that we didn’t start well and we didn’t get at them and do what we had to do.”