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Tiernan Lynch On Continued Success At Larne And Hopes For The New Season And Beyond

Tiernan Lynch On Continued Success At Larne And Hopes For The New Season And Beyond

An interview with Tiernan Lynch, by Callum McFadden for WFi.

Your Larne side retained the Irish Premiership title last season which was a phenomenal achievement given that the season before when you won it, that was the first title success in the club’s history. How proud were you of the players and staff that you were able to retain the title in the manner that you did? 

“It was a phenomenal achievement for everyone at the club

“A lot of people talked about us when we won it for the first time in 2023 but we knew that retaining the title would be even more difficult because as reigning champions, everyone wants to beat you more than ever.

“At the start of last season, we had a little bit of a rocky start and in hindsight, that was probably down to us thinking about what would be needed to retain a title rather than taking things one game at a time which has always been my mantra.

“We lost away at Loughgall in September, and we knew after that game that we had to regroup quickly and put together a run of performances as we were not securing the results that we knew we were capable of.

“The league as a whole is such a good league with many good players and managers so there aren’t any easy games.

“Thankfully, after that game at Loughgall, we knew that we had to get our finger out and we had to get back to winning ways and fast.

“Post Loughgall, we went on a run of 24 league games without losing and that recovery of form and momentum, ultimately set us up to go on and retain the title with a new record points total for the club of 90 points which was seven more than we had when we won the title in 2022-23.”

Partnerships all over the pitch in key positions have been another factor in Larne’s success. How much of that is a testament to the players but also the staff as you have created healthy much competition for places in every position?

“We take great pride in instilling competition in all areas of the pitch and instilling confidence and belief in how we play with the players throughout the squad.

“We always set up to go and win games and attack the opposition as much as we can while ensuring that we have a solidity that enables us to keep clean sheets and be strong defensively as a group by defending from the front.

“We try not to talk about the defenders in our team or the attackers in our team in terms of individual roles because we all defend without the ball, and we all have a role to play in how we attack when we do have the ball.

“We try not to differentiate between and although, the attacking players get a lot of the headlines for putting the ball in the net, they know that without what goes on behind them, they would not have those opportunities to score so as such, we pride ourselves as a team in what we do collectively.”

Throughout your time as a manager, you have a strong record of developing players. In recent years, Craig Farquhar and Kofi Balmer have moved to Crystal Palace with Balmer now moving to Scottish Premiership side Motherwell on a permanent transfer. How proud are you of your record of player development in addition to the success of winning trophies?

“Following the end of the season, I came across a stat – which I actually didn’t realise during the season – that we had the second youngest team in the league last season.

“Our average age was 25.2 or something like that which shows that we like to trust younger players and bring kids from the academy into the first team and get them to play.

“Our philosophy as a club is that it’s not a matter of their age, it’s a matter of being good enough and what we try to do is not necessarily put them in too early.

“We’ve now got a very good academy which we think is a fairly slick operation because we try to get our young players to progress through a realistic pathway to first-team football.

“That starts from the under 18s, then we try to get them involved in under 20s before looking to get them out on loan to experience senior football or if we believe that they are ready, we are not fazed by putting them into our first team to showcase themselves within senior football in the Irish Premiership.

“Over the last couple of seasons, we have had Kofi and Craig in our first team having progressed within the club which enabled them to move on a Premier League club in Crystal Palace which is a massive compliment to what we are doing at the club when it comes to the development of players.

“I am convinced that Dylan Sloan would have made a similar move this year if he hadn’t torn his hamstring because he is another young player with lots of potential.

“Looking ahead to this season, we’ve got Matty Lusty and Sean O’Neill back in the building following impressive loan spells at Dungannon Swifts and Ballymena United last season.

“Overall, I believe that the future is very bright for the youth players coming through at Larne.

“That being said, it is their job now to go and make sure that make the most of the opportunities that will be given to them and hopefully they go on and do that because it is fundamentally important to our vision at Larne.”

Finally, Tiernan, after back-to-back league titles and European qualifiers upon you soon, what is the ambition for the upcoming season at Larne?

“As you know Callum, I do not like to look too far ahead because you can lose sight of what’s in front of you if you look too far ahead or if you look back over your shoulder.

“The main aim for myself, and what everyone at the club is now concentrating on, is the fact that we’re going to have to face RFS of Latvia in the Champions League.

“After that, we won’t look too far ahead because we can’t control what’s in the future, all we can do is focus all of our energy on the next game and take things from there.

“Of course, there are one or two things we’d like to do with the squad in the transfer market if the right opportunity arises but as things stand, all of our concentration is on our pre-season preparation and readying ourselves for that first game in Europe.”