INSTITUTE skipper, Paddy McLaughlin, has revealed he will delay any decision on his future at the Drumahoe club until after their Irish Premiership season comes to an end next weekend.
The 35-year-old defender is unwilling to commit himself to the club as it now prepares for another stint in Irish Championship One, with so much uncertainty surrounding the Institute after the club’s relegation was confirmed last weekend.
With a major upheaval expected at Board level, McLaughlin claims the players are facing a waiting game in regard to their futures at the Drumahoe club.
“I haven’t been thinking too much about next year and what I’m going to do, because this year’s been a big disappointment,” said McLaughlin.
“My focus is getting this season over and done with and see what the summer brings. Whatever it brings for the players individually and collectively, we’ll wait and see.
“Until we get this season over I can’t really comment on what I’m doing or what anyone else is doing until we see what’s happening over the next few weeks.
“We don’t know who is going to be at the club. We don’t know what manager is going to be in charge or what players are going to be there.
“If a new manager comes in he might want to wipe the slate clean and bring in his own men,” he added.
“Even if Paul Kee stays he might want to do the same. So with regard to the future, nobody really knows what’s going to happen.”
‘Stute travel to
Institute travel to Dungannon Swifts tomorrow afternoon for their penultimate Premiership clash of the season (kick-off 3p.m.)
Their relegation last weekend renders the game meaningless for many but not for McLaughlin who is determined to get a particular ‘monkey off his back.’’
Having gone a staggering 24 league games without a victory, McLaughlin feels it’s imperative that the club end that unenviable run before the season’s end - even if only to put an end to the constant jibes and reminders from his mates.
“I’m reminded about it every week by my mates so I’d love to break this run on Saturday. For me, as a senior player and as captain, you want to finish as strongly as you can.
“I know it’s been a major disappointment this season with a lot of setbacks throughout the year.
“So if we can finish with two positive results it might give us some sort of comfort and sign off our Premiership status strongly.
“Some people might think it’s a meaningless match but I’m sure both the club and Paul Kee will be looking towards next year.
“They can use these next couple of matches towards building for the future.
“It’s meaningless with regard to this year because we’re down but it could be the start of the rebuilding process.
“That run we’re on, with so many games without a win, we want to break that before the season’s over.
We don’t want to finish the season knowing we haven’t won a game since October.
“So we want to break that run and finish off in some sort of form if we can get a couple of results in the last two games, maybe that could be a base to build on for next year.”
Reflecting on Institute’s fall from grace after such a promising start to the 2014/15 campaign, McLaughlin pointed to the loss of the club’s ‘four best players’ and its decision to revert to amateur status as reasons for their eventual downfall.
“Early in the season we held our own but I couldn’t then actually put my finger on what happened after that and say why we went off the rails so badly.
“The first part of the season was definitely a success but it went badly wrong after that.”
“Losing key players and everything that could go against us did and eventually that cost us our place in the Premier League.”
“If we can learn from it as a club and as individuals we can go back stronger and be back in the Premiership as soon as possible.”
The club’s amateur status had a major bearing on the club’s progress claimed McLaughlin, and he believes that decision ultimately cost them their place in the Premiership.
“At the time it didn’t really matter to me. I knew, as a senior player, I wanted to play as long as I can instead of arguing about money.
“I understand why the players who left did because they were getting frustrated with what they were getting and when you are offered a lot more money to go elsewhere you can’t really stand in their way, especially if you’re young and ambitious and want to do well for yourself.
“The club wanted to secure themselves financially and if that meant taking a chance of going amateur then fair enough, But that’s what happens as result.
“Your best players start walking out the door and you can’t stop them. It’s got its pros and its cons but it’s probably cost us our Premiership status this year.
Four of our best players left at the start of the season and there wasn’t anything the club could do about it.
“We lost our four best players but that’s the risk you take when you want to go amateur,” he concluded.