Stute boss Kevin Deery expects his young charges to be out like hounds after the hare when they take on Ballinamallard at Ferney Park tonight after being kept on the leash for seven weeks due to a seemingly interminable arbitration saga, not of their making.
On Monday, Sports Resolutions UK, the arbiter in a byzantine dispute involving Carrick Rangers, Warrenpoint Town and the Disciplinary Committee of the Irish FA, finally ruled that the Drumahoe-side could play the second leg of their promotion/relegation play-off against Ballinamallard tonight.
Deery, whose side must overhaul the 1 - 2 deficit inflicted by Stute old boy Stephen O’Flynn and John Currie in early May, which now seems like an age ago, says it will be a relief to get back to business following the month-long lay off.
“It’s been frustrating to be honest after such a long-drawn out process but although it’s come at short notice, I’m delighted and the players are delighted that we can get on with it now on Wednesday,” he told the Sentinel.
“In a way, despite the short notice, it’s probably easier for us in a way, in that we always knew we would be facing into a play-off one-way or another where Ballinamallard may have had uncertainty in their minds.
“So it’s been just about trying to keep things ticking over in the close-season.”
“Hopefully, we can do the business. We have a good young squad who bring a lot of energy. The average age of the squad is in the early twenties.
“Ideally, you would have liked to have had better preparation and the whole handling of it is really something I’ve not been impressed by to be honest but we’re hopeful we can go out and get a result tonight.”
Deery said keeping the squad together and match fit long after the season concluded is a challenging feat for a senior club less financially endowed than its more illustrious counterparts in Belfast.
However, he has only two suspension headaches for tonight’s clash in the lakelands with stopper Darryl McDermot and midfielder Niall Grace both missing.