In this week’s Ulster Gazette, John Connolly speaks about about how City need to stay positive in their attempts to get out of their current poor run of form. Get the Ulster Gazette every week for interviews, reports and photographs from Armagh City FC
City ready to turn the corner
By Sam Gamble
Experienced Armagh City goalkeeper John Connolly has said that the Cathedral City outfit need to keep their heads up and stay positive, as they look to get themselves out of their recent poor run of form.
City’s latest performance saw them suffer a 4-1 at home to Institute on Saturday afternoon in the league and Connolly said it has been a difficult period for the club.
“We need to keep our heads up and be positive and I know that once we get a few players back from injury and suspension that we will be back up there and getting some positive results again.
Marty Rice’s charges suffered an agonising midweek defeat against Carrick Rangers last Wednesday evening in the NIFL League Cup and despite having large spells of possession, City had little to show for their efforts.
“It was a close enough game in my eyes,” said experienced stopper Connolly.
“They didn’t create that many chances and I think if we had a bit more firepower up front on the night then we could have caused them some real problems.
“We have a small squad and a few injuries and suspensions can really hurt you, but I think we can take some credit from how we played and take the positives from it.”
Connolly admitted that it has been a testing couple of weeks for the Holm Park side and said that he would take a ‘horrible’ 1-0 win in their next clash against the Welders in Belfast this Saturday.
“At the moment we would take an 89th minute winner from an own goal just to stabilise us and allows us to get a positive result. Sometimes you just want a horrible 1-0 win to get you going again, but that’s football and we know that we have got to show character when things are difficult. We know that once we have everyone fit and available then we will push on and start to move up the table.”
The former Cliftonville and Glenavon goalkeeper admitted that manager Marty Rice has all the right characteristics to get them out of this rut.
“People forget that Marty has not only just built a team, but also built a club. He is one of the longest serving managers in the league and having someone like Marty in charge can be beneficial for the club in more ways than one. The committee know him and Marty knows how the committee work and he knows the club inside out. There is long term stability at the club and we have seen over the last few weeks that having that sort of stability has allowed more younger players are coming through and they see that they have the opportunity to push on into the first team.
“However, at the end of the day as a group of senior players we know that whatever team Marty puts out then it is down to us to go out and get the result.”
Connolly’s debut season ended in spectacular fashion as he helped City lift the Bob Radcliffe Cup at Lakeview Park against their fierce rivals Loughgall. Connolly’s two saves during the penalty shootout helped City lift the famous old trophy at the end of a busy season.
“I have to admit that it was a very enjoyable season at City and it was fantastic to end the season on high beating your local rivals on penalties at their home ground!
City ended their league campaign as one of the in-form teams in the Irish League and Connolly admitted that if the season had gone on for another month, City could very well have been in title contention.
“We ended up finishing in third spot (just 10 points behind champions Ards) and we finished higher than Institute, who in the end played in the relegation/promotion play-off because they had the right license to go up. Looking back on it it was a really enjoyable first season and we recorded some super results over the duration of the season in both the league and cup.”