Malone points to difference in ‘vision’ as boss leaves Lurgan Celtic

Colin Malone guided Lurgan Celtic into last season's Tennent's Irish Cup semi-final against Linfield. Pic: PressEye
Colin Malone guided Lurgan Celtic into last season's Tennent's Irish Cup semi-final against Linfield. Pic: PressEye

Former Lurgan Celtic manager Colin Malone says a difference in ‘vision’ was his reason for stepping down from the club this week.

The former Glenavon and Dungannon Swifts boss took over the helm at Knockramer Park in December 2013 with a dream to take the club into the Danske Bank Premiership.

However, he resigned from his post on Monday and has said that he felt he and others at the club were pulling in different directions.

“It’s been ongoing really,” said an evidently disappointed Malone. “I felt increasingly isolated in my attempts to keep stepping forward in the Irish League.

“I had set my goal to get Lurgan Celtic into the Premiership and I had backed that in everything I did. I don’t think my efforts were matched off the field.

“There is a lot of commitment involved in trying to do that but everybody has to be singing from the same hymn sheet.

“I know now that some of the committee don’t have the same vision that I had. Therein lie a lot of problems.”

Malone did oversee one of the club’s biggest ever days when he helped them into the Irish Cup semi-finals last season, seeing off Portadown 3-2 in the quarter-finals. That proved to be Ronnie McFall’s last match as Portadown manager after Raymond Fitzpatrick’s 90th minute winner saw Celtic through to face Linfield.

They eventually went down 3-0 to the Blues, despite a spirited first half performance ensured they were level at half-time.

“I did a lot to try and raise the profile of the club,” he continued, “getting promotion from Championship Two and the Irish Cup run as well, which was maybe overshadowed by the fact the quarter-final proved to be Ronnie’s last game.

“Getting out of Championship Two was a good achievement and the Irish Cup semi-final was great but everybody didn’t believe in the vision of getting to the Premiership.

“I really thought that’s where it would end and that we would get there but I can’t drag people with me if they don’t want to go.

“It would have been a great story if we could have done it but I was increasingly on my own.

“I’ve been trying to change maybe too much at the club. They are historically a Mid-Ulster club and I was trying to make them into a Premiership club with the experiences that I’ve had. I know the ways those clubs are run and brought that bit of professionalism to try and get the club away from that Mid-Ulster mentality.

“My assistant Paddy O’Hagan did everything he could but he has left the club now too.”

Malone had hoped days like the Irish Cup semi-final would become regular occurances for Lurgan Celtic, insisting after the game that they were aiming to reach the Premiership ‘as soon as possible.’

And although he will not now see his dream made reality, Malone was full of praise for the club’s fanbase and his team

“The supporters were fantastic,” he said. “They are a small bunch of loyal supporters who have followed us the whole time. I have nothing but admiration for their efforts and commitment. They were appreciative of what I was trying to do and the effort I was putting in.

“The players have stuck together well and have put in good shifts for me. I would speak very highly of them.”

So what’s next for Malone and will he return to management?

“I don’t know,” he said. “I’ve had a bit of a sickener but I’ll take a break now and see what I’m going to do.”

Lurgan Celtic’s board are due to meet tonight and will release a statement after that meeting.

Celtic are currently ninth in the Championship and were beaten 3-2 by H&W Welders in Malone’s final match on Saturday.