‘We won’t see miracles overnight’ says Gray but increased performance levels are required for Newry City on Saturday

Clearer Water IFA Irish Cup Round 5. Saturday January 6 (3pm): Newry City v Ballinamallard United
New Newry City boss Barry Gray takes charge of his first game this Saturday. Pic: Brendan MonaghanNew Newry City boss Barry Gray takes charge of his first game this Saturday. Pic: Brendan Monaghan
New Newry City boss Barry Gray takes charge of his first game this Saturday. Pic: Brendan Monaghan

A new era begins on Saturday, as Barry Gray takes charge of Newry City for the first time, having been announced as manager on Tuesday evening.

Gray’s number one priority as boss will be to keep bottom-placed City in the top flight, but first up is an Irish Cup clash against Championship outfit Ballinamallard United at The Showgrounds.

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Having had a hectic week, the former Warrenpoint Town boss told the Newry Reporter that he’s keen to get out on the pitch in front of the home crowd, without the pressures of league points at stake.

“It’s good to get a game, and it’s good that it’s a cup game,” said Gray.

“Not that it’s Ballinamallard or anything like that; we’re guaranteed that we can’t lose any points on Saturday, which is first and foremost a good opportunity for me to get a look into the depths of the squad. We have had very little contact time with the players this week, because there has been a lot going on.

“We’re not going to see miracles overnight, but the key thing for us on Saturday is to see if we can get some of our messages across to them and see if we can begin to see some of the green shoots put in place straight away.

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“Hopefully that will be enough for us to be competitive in the game and take away a win.”

Despite Newry playing in a higher division than Saturday’s opponents, they will be taking nothing for granted following their recent run of form, which has seen them go 13 games without a win in the league. Furthermore, Newry were dumped out of the competition at this stage by Championship side Harland and Wolff Welders 12 months ago.

Recent results have seen the side sink to their lowest point of the season and confidence amongst the playing squad is low, but Gray is hopeful that the right result on Saturday can serve as a catalyst for positivity, as they head into an important few months.

“Winning is a habit and losing is a habit,” he said.“Our job is to come in and win games, whether they’re in the cup or in the league. At this minute in time, we want to build the confidence of the players – and everyone around the club for that matter.

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“Everyone deserves a wee lift at this moment, and you can only win the game that’s in front of you. We’re confident, not cocky, that we can get our message across on Saturday and see if we can get a result.

“Worst case scenario, we require from the players increased performance levels. If we can get that, we’re confident that we will get the result that we need.”