Institute boss Brian Donaghey wants reaction against Ballinamallard United

Institute manager Brian Donaghey is expecting to see a positive reaction when his side face Ballinamallard United tomorrow at the Ryan McBride Brandywell Stadium (3pm).

Pupils from Ebrington Primary School and young footballers from Institute FC’s academy pictured at the school on Wednesday morning a visit by club officials to distribute free tickets to Institute’s home games against Ballinamallard United tomorrow and Newry City on Saturday, January 1st 2022. Free tickets, for the games, are being offered to schools around the city. Included, from left, are Gary Forth, Institute’s Youth Development Manager; Santa; Lee Kitson, Institute’s Goalkeeping Coach; Institute First Team Head Coach Brian Donaghey and Mr Brian Guthrie, Principal, Ebrington PS. Picture by George Sweeney

The Drumahoe side were poor, particularly in the second half, against fellow strugglers, Dundela last weekend leaving Donaghey furious by what he thought was a lack of effort and he wants a response against Harry McConkey’s men.

“Look it has to hurt,” insisted the Stute boss. “Losing becomes a habit and it has become a bad habit for us right now.

“These type of runs tell you a lot about the character of the team, the boys you can depend on and the boys who maybe you aren’t sure of coming into the heat of the battle and we are going to be in a relegation battle in January, but hopefully with quite a few signings to help out the overall depth of the squad.

“These type of runs tells you a lot about the character of the team, about the boys you can depend on and the boys who maybe you aren’t sure of coming into the heat of the battle. We are going to be in a relegation battle in January but hopefully with quite a few signings to help out the overall depth and quality of the squad and we’ll get a bounce from that hopefully.

“However, at the minute we just have to get people to step up. I’m asking young players to become men, maybe a season too early for them but it will help them in their career and in their overall development.

“It’s something that happened to me, I was thrown-in at the deep end at 16 or 17 at Coleraine but the whole difference then was that I had the likes of Felix Healy, Marty Tabb and Gerry

Mullan, who were experienced pros, to help me and we don’t really have that for the young lads. It’s something we are definitely lacking.”

The Waterside men welcome back duo Shaun Leppard and Joel Gorman from suspension but striker Brendan McLaughlin is missing after getting red carded last weekend.

“Joel and Shaun have finished their suspensions but we’ll be without Benny so we are down a striker right away, someone who has done well for us in the past,” he stated.

“Look, I had a chat with the boys on Tuesday night and the squad seemed upbeat and are ready for the Ballinamallard game. We’ll put a plan in place at training on Thursday night and we’ll see if that works on Saturday.

“Ballinamallard are second, they are going well, and they have put a good run of results together. They have a very good squad and are a good club with a good manager so they’ll be coming to us full of confidence. They’ll be looking to keep the pressure on Newry City whom they cannot afford to allow to slip out of their sights or else it could be over by February, particularly if Newry keep a head of steam up.

“We play the two top teams in our next three matches, so we know we are not going to get anything easy.”

Sandwiched in between tomorrow’s clash against Ballinamallard and the New Year’s Day home clash with Newry City is a trip to bottom side Queens so Donaghey knows it is an important few weeks coming up.

“Look, at this club right now we just have to concentrate and take one game at time,” he explained.

“Obviously with a loss of form from quite a few players we are relying on younger players that we shouldn’t have to rely on but that was the squad I inherited. Thankfully Shaun and Joel are back so we might have a chance to freshen up some things and a few extra bodies helps us.”