STEPHEN McDONNELL: Warrenpoint on the rise as Dungannon Swifts sink

Warrenpoint Town boss Stephen McDonnell. Pic by INPHO.
Warrenpoint Town boss Stephen McDonnell. Pic by INPHO.

Lessons in moving forward are rarely provided by a side bottom of the league standings but Kris Lindsay may have walked away from his first home fixture as Dungannon Swifts boss envious of aspects of Warrenpoint Town’s performance towards a 2-0 tally on Saturday.

Two goals by Ciaran O’Connor secured three points for Warrenpoint that stretched the club’s unbeaten run to four games, as a result both pushing Stephen McDonnell and his squad off the foot of the Danske Bank Premiership table and sinking a sluggish Swifts side.

Dungannon Swifts boss Kris Lindsay. Pic by PressEye Ltd.

Dungannon Swifts boss Kris Lindsay. Pic by PressEye Ltd.

Warrenpoint, having had to endure defeats across each of the opening six league tests, produced a display assured and with an understanding across the pitch of individual roles towards team success. That progress thanks to perseverance left the Town boss full of admiration and serves as something of a marker as Lindsay takes his first steps into management aiming to implement similar forward strides.

“We went through a really dark and difficult period,” said McDonnell. “It has made us stronger and we are now starting to see the rewards for sticking to our beliefs when the easier option may have been to scrap everything.

“Today was a battling performance, we looked very dangerous and played when we had the ball but were also really impressive without it and that honest graft is crucial.

“It has been a transition but it is about competing physically first to then play the football we want off that foothold, now we are getting that first bit right and also the latter, although it is about keeping going.

“We asked ourselves a lot of questions to get to the bottom of those problems but by sticking to our beliefs that has really helped to focus the players.

“Eight points from the past 12 available is a very healthy return.”

O’Connor’s growing impact offers an example of that ability to turn those internal discussions into an external end product.

“Ciaran has now scored three in the league and one in the cup so that’s not bad,” said McDonnell. “We’ve tinkered with his role and it’s about best utilising his ability as someone strong who gets about the pitch and is hard to stop, moving from an out-and-out number nine to something slightly deeper.”

Lindsay’s playing career provided medals at some of the biggest clubs in Irish League football and he will aim to transfer that personal drive for excellence into a Swifts squad that appeared sluggish overall and short of conviction on an afternoon which included a Daniel Hughes penalty miss and David Armstrong red card.

“Today was hugely disappointing as we conceded early and probably didn’t recover from that,” said Lindsay. “We missed our own penalty and had a few other good chances we didn’t take but Warrenpoint probably deserved to win.

“As disappointing as it is, we’ll not panic with still so many league games to turn things around and we are confident we can do that but it is a lesson for our players.

“You cannot play like that and win games of football.

“It will take time for me to get my ideas across on how we want to play and for the players to learn how I work, it’s a process which has started and is on-going but one which needs to start bearing fruit in the not-too-distant future.

“You are going to make mistakes in football and concede goals but it is how you react then and we need to instill into the players that self-belief.”