‘Stute, Limavady seek new managers

BOTH Institute and Limavady United enter this weekend’s Ladbroke’s Championship programmes without managers, but both North-West clubs insist they will not be rushed into making panic appointments.

ARTHUR DUFFY reports

Institute host Ards at the Riverside Stadium tomorrow afternoon (3.00 p.m.) and while caretaker manager, Alan Blair, will led the team from the dugout, ‘Stute Chairman, Mr. Trevor Hewitt, made it clear that his club “would not be rushed into making an appointment.”

However, he did admit that six individuals wished to be taken into consideration for the vacant post, but he refused to identify those involved.

“We have received six approaches for the position and we will respect their requests for confidentiality,” said Mr. Hewitt.

“Our Committee met last Monday night, the Committee will discuss the applications for the post before making any decision. Former player and current coach, Alan Blair, who led the team against Ballinamallard last weekend, will again be in charge this weekend for the visit of Ards,” he added.

And in Limavady the situation remains similar, with the “Roesiders” issuing a statement this week following the departure of Oran Kearney to near-neighbours Coleraine.

The statement made it clear that Limavady would not be pushed into making a decision and, indeed, identified this day week as the deadline date for applications for the vacant position at Rathmore Road.

“Applications are invited for those who wish to apply for the post of manager at Limavady and those applications should be received by 5.00 p.m. on Friday next, February 18th,” read the statement.

“The club hopes to have a new manager in place within two weeks if possible, but will not be rushed into making an appointment.”

On the Institute front, it’s no secret that Blair is interested in the job and he refused to hide that interest when interviewed yesterday in relation to tomorrow afternoon’s game.

“I’ve told the Board that I would like to be considered for the vacant manager’s job,” declared Blair. “That decision is now for others to make and I’ve agreed to take charge of the team for Saturday’s game against Ards.

“Should I not get the job, then my feelings for Institute Football Club will not change. I will continue coaching at the club if required and continue to support a club I’ve been involved in for over a decade as a player and coach,” he added.

With Ruairi McClean, Graham Crown and new on-loan signing from Derry City, Adam Clarke, to be added to the squad, Blair was confident that Institute could end their disappointing run of five consecutive defeats.

“To be fair, the players have been excellent in training this week. Our preparation for Saturday’s match has gone well despite the difficulties off the pitch, but we can afford to take nothing for granted,” he continued.

And he agreed that ‘Stute’s struggle in front of goal has been a constant problem this season but he hoped that would change sooner rather than later.

“We need to be ruthless in front of goal and, indeed, score goals from all areas of the pitch, not just be dependant on our front-line. To be fair, we have been creating chances, but we’ve failed to take them and that has cost us dearly.”

Midfielder, Conor McShane, is on the road to recovery following ankle ligament damage but tomorrow’s game may well come too soon for the player, but Blair is confident that Ards will face a stiff test in Drumahoe.

“Adam Clarke will bring something different to the team and now that his International Clearance has arrived, he will be involved in the squad. The experience of Ruairi McClean will also be important and with Declan Divin now recovered from injury, I’m hopeful that we will give a good account of ourselves and get back to winning ways,” he concluded.