In this week’s Ulster Gazette, Shea McGerrigan speaks about his return from injury and hopes of firing City up the table. Get your Ulster Gazette every Tuesday morning for all the reports, interviews and analysis from Holm Park!
Making a difference!
By Sam Gamble
After going 54 days without a win in the NIFL Championship, Armagh City’s recent revival has coincided with the return of key players such as Shea Campbell, Philip Donnelly and Shea McGerrigan. Indeed, McGerrigan’s return has given City a greater cutting edge in the final third, with the left-winger having a major influence in recent games.
He crossed for Andy Hoey to net the winner against Larne and scored a goal of his own in their draw at Warrenpoint Town. While modestly claiming City’s return to form has been down to hard work from everyone, McGerrigan admitted it was nice to be back involved after a spell on the sidelines.
“I was out for six weeks with a medial ligament injury in my knee at the start of the season. I’m 28 now and you sometimes sit back and get frustrated when you are injured and wonder what is this all about! Thankfully I have the worst of it over me and I am back, 100% fit and raring to go.”
City’s seemed to turn the corner in a defeat at Harland and Wolff Welders and McGerrigan said you could sense a change in fortunes was coming.
“At the Welders game away (which City lost 3-1) I could see the corner was being turned. We are a really tight unit and I think we maybe struggled to replace Stefan Lavery’s goals from last season and we were missing a few key players.
“Shea Campbell has come back in and he has been our focal point and the likes of Andy Hoey, Philip Donnelly and myself are behind him fighting for the scraps. On my own form, I was happy to get back involved and I set up Andy for the winner against Larne and then grabbed a goal of my own against Warrenpoint.”
Despite being just 28 years of age, McGerrigan is one of the most experienced players in the Holm Park dressing room and he claimed that it is still a bit of shock to the system!
“I can remember when I first came in to the team at 17 and looking up to all of the older players and one of them said to me becoming an older head comes around too quickly. We do have a young side and I’m not sure I like being called one of the ‘old heads’ of the squad!”
McGerrigan rose through the ranks at Holm Park, joining the club when he was 13. After performing well at the Milk Cup for County Armagh he was soon thrust into senior football and made his debut aged just 17!
“I left City and spent a season and a half with Dungannon Swifts and then played for six months at Loughgall under Niall Currie,” said the talented left-winger.
“After that I moved back to City when Marty took over and he has been absolutely brilliant. The last four or five years have been brilliant. We won the Championship 2 and won the Bob Radcliffe Cup twice, as well as going close in the Mid-Ulster Cup. It has been a great move for me and I was more than happy to come back on board and work with Marty.”
City had hoped to build upon the momentum they created at the tail end of last season, where they were one of the in-form teams in the Irish League and finished third in the table.
McGerrigan admitted that City have struggled to reach the heights of last season, but warned their rivals that they have their sights firmly fixed on moving up the league table.
“We don’t fear anyone in this league. When it comes to ‘pure football’ we are as good as anyone in this league. But we know that we have to dig deep in away games to get results. It won’t always be pretty but we know what is expected if you want to push on.”
City have one of the best home records in the league in recent years and McGerrigan admitted the 3G surface at Holm Park suits their style of play.
“We have such a solid home record and I think that comes down to Holm Park and the way Marty sends us out to play. The pitch has been in for a few years now and it took some time to get used it and it isn’t getting any easier on my joints, but the pitch suits the way we play!”
While City’s immediate focus is on this Saturday’s home tie with Lurgan Celtic, they will be looking forward to the fifth round draw of the Irish Cup at the start of December.
“We have really enjoyed our cup runs over the last few years,” confessed McGerrigan.
“We had the draw with Glentoran at home and then we really pushed them in the replay. Then last season we went to Windsor Park and, while we we lost the game, we took a lot of plaudits from how well we played.
“When you are playing at this level getting those sort of away days is what we all strive to and we all enjoyed our day out against Linfield and another day out like that would be brilliant this time around.”