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New Ards boss Niall Currie


NIALL Currie is looking forward to getting stuck into his new challenge after taking over as boss of Ards earlier this month.

The Portadown-based manager, who enjoyed unrivalled success during his three and a half years in charge of Loughgall has now switched his focus to raising the fortunes of the club that play out of Ballyclare's Dixon Park.

Currie recalls, "From I started managing, even at Annagh United we turned things around. At one time they were re-applying to stay in the league but I lifted them up the table and got them into the Mid-Ulster Cup final.

"I had great times there and a great time at Loughgall and my intention is to have even greater times here."

Currie got the call from Ards two days after the departure of former manager Justin McBride, who had been unable to build on his side's early season form and resigned his position after failing to win in five games.

For Currie, the call from the Ards chairman was just the kind of offer he was waiting for. "I'm absolutely delighted to be here," he says.

"It's great to be back in football and it's great to get an opportunity at such a great club. To me the potential here is enormous. We've such a great fan base to tap into again and I'm hopeful that I can be as successful as I have in the past."

Niall got his reign as new Ards boss off to a winning start with victory over Tobermore United. It was the first look he had got at a number of players, having had only a couple of midweek training sessions to run his eye over his bunch of inherited players. With the transfer window firmly shut until January 1st, the new man in charge must make do with the squad assembled by his predecessor.

Currie comments: "I'm well aware of guys like Darren Nixon, Aaron McKee and Nathan McConnell but there's others I'll have to get to know.

"I've told the players that as far as I'm concerned, with the transfer window shut for two months, everything is in their hands.

"We've got to turn things around and get some results and get a feel good factor here. If we can get a bit of momentum going, it's amazing where that can take you."

For the past four years Currie has been busy carving out his well respected name, as the most successful boss in Championship football.

His two league titles and six cups while manager of Loughgall made him the number one on the Ards board's wish list.

So what does the former Irish League goalkeeper bring to the table?

"My biggest strength is man management," says Niall. "What we've got to do is get some smiles on faces and make sure people are enjoying their football - that's the best way to get players playing well.

"If you work hard the results will come, there's no doubt about that. If we give 110% every time we play, when we're out there representing the supporters, I don't think anyone will have any complaints.

"The players won't ever get hammered by me if they come off the pitch and have given everything and we've been unlucky to lose. Everybody wants to see that when they come off the pitch they've given everything."

The man from Mid-Ulster is set to do some travelling as he takes on the Ards role but is quick to explain how that won't be a problem, especially with the team he'll have behind him.

"I'm based in Mid-Ulster but that's not going to be an issue. As far as I see it all the work is done on the training pitch on a Tuesday and Thursday night, which I'll be there for.

"What I will have to do is tap into the talent available locally and so I've brought in David Bryson as my scout and he knows very well what this area offers." 

The new backroom team has also taken shape with Currie calling on the same men who helped him to success at both Annagh and Loughgall.

Former Bangor midfielder Michael McKeown was in the dugout on Saturday as number two while Jay Willis has also come on board as first team coach.

After years of top flight football, when Currie turned out for more than half a dozen clubs including Portadown and Glenavon, he still finds it's his years with Bangor that he's best remembered for.

And Niall has fond memories of those times too, recalling his part in a long line of North Down derby games between Ards and Bangor.

"I remember having wonderful banter with the Ards supporters regularly. I think they had seen that side to me too, that I like a bit of banter.

"Even up to two years ago when I brought my Loughgall team up to Dixon Park and had to play in goals myself, the Ards supporters were fantastic. I've had great times and I've been very lucky throughout my career. I don't regret a thing."

Currie, who even played one game for Ards back in the mid-nineties, is of course eager to point out that his commitment is now to his new club and he's been pleased by the response to his arrival.

"A big thing to me has been the reaction of the Ards supporters to me coming here. I'm buzzing because I've received such tremendous support. I'm here and everyone can be sure, from now on I'm red and blue."

By Andrew McCullough

Tags:  Ards  Glenavon  Portadown