Barry Gray back home at Warrenpoint Town but romance over reality for boss
Barry Gray will give his first home teamtalk as Warrenpoint Town boss in around three years this weekend but is more concerned with reality than romance.
Gray stepped down as first-team boss in October 2016 having helped steer the club up the Irish League ladder from Mid-Ulster football roots.
Out of the game since a January departure from Cliftonville, Gray returned to management late last week following the Town hierarchy’s decision to axe Stephen McDonnell as boss of the top flight’s bottom club.
A last-gasp defeat to Carrick Rangers marked a sudden and sharp return to the dugout - next for Gray is back on familiar territory on the Milltown touchline for Warrenpoint’s weekend test with Glentoran.
Given the circumstances of his return, Gray has little time for reminiscing over past exploits and considers the only success story if Warrenpoint finish the season with senior football.
“There are bigger concerns than me being back at Warrenpoint as home manager,” said Gray, who has the experienced Gavin Dykes on board as assistant manager. “The focus has to be on the performance of the players and, no matter the ground, the need for points.
“Hindsight is a wonderful thing and I can look back on my previous time at Warrenpoint, period with Cliftonville and time out of the game and analyse decisions and what may or may not have been done in a different way.
“We can talk about me and the history with Warrenpoint, or anything else, really it comes down to results and everything will be judged on staying in this division.
“The players had to cope with quite a bit last week following a heavy midweek loss then the situation with Stephen and me having a brief first team meeting on Thursday before going to Carrick on Saturday.
“We lost but the players have been training well this week and all we can ask is for the squad to give everything.
“It is a different challenge home to Glentoran than away to Carrick but, in truth, it is going to come down to the end of the season and if Warrenpoint still remain in the Premiership.
“Until that point, it is about the players in what is still a relatively small panel.
“There is no such thing as a quick fix and it may take four or five weeks for the ideas of this new management team to really come across.
“That is especially true given, bar one or two, it is a group of players I’ve never worked with in the past.
“But I keep on making the point and cannot stress enough how our role is to facilitate the squad first and foremost.
“It’s about giving the players the best chance possible to deliver for this cub.”
Mick McDermott may have more minutes on the clock this season in Premiership management but the head coach brings his Glentoran squad to Warrenpoint in the process of a rebuilding phase following significant investment. A thrilling 3-1 success last Friday over Ballymena United offered signs of forward progress.
“The second half was as good as we’ve played this season,” said Glens captain Marcus Kane. “It’s still key to be patient, the fans have been great, but it’s early days, we’ll have little dips.
“We have the recipe to have a good team - money does talk, so it’s up to Mick and ‘Windy’ (Paul Millar) to make the decisions to strengthen the squad when necessary.
“The players they have brought in so far have been great so far - what we have proved in recent games is that we can ride out a storm.”