Captain's Column

Captain’s Column

BANNSIDERS defender Stephen O’Donnell writes to for the first time in his brand new Captain’s Column…

Hi everyone, this is the first piece in what I hope will become a successful and enjoyable addition to your weekly match day preparation. A special mention to Dougie, who is our club captain, and a brilliant one at that. He was happy enough for me to take the column and I am grateful to him. He is a great character and someone who has helped me improve my game massively over the last 12 months. I’m looking forward to giving you an insight on the changing room and our mentality and preparation for games throughout the season.

Looking back at last week’s result, I think the boys deserve a huge amount of credit for the performance and the result. As the gaffer said, we were as depleted a squad as he’s ever seen through injuries and suspensions. It takes a special group to put that all to one side and get a positive result. I thought the boys were excellent throughout and done a professional job against a Warrenpoint side with a lot of new players, but we never looked in danger of losing and that was what really impressed me.

It takes a special group to put all that to one side and get a positive result.

A special mention must go to the three young lads who made their debuts. Debuts are never easy, but I was impressed with how well they handled themselves and performed well. Young Ben at right-back was solid, assured and has a real calmness to his game. Alex put in a real shift up top and his tireless energy and work ethic was crucial in us turning over possession. Finally, Andy is a young player with a big future ahead of him and I’m sure those three will go on to make many more appearances in the blue and white stripes.

Looking ahead to this week’s game, it will be a completely different proposition to last week. Cliftonville are a familiar opponent of ours and they have so much attacking quality in Joe Gormley, the Donnelly’s and Chris Curran. Having played them five times last season, managing 4 wins and a draw, we will know what to expect. The two away games against Cliftonville last season are games that really stick out for me for two reasons. Firstly, our defensive performance in both games was outstanding and we managed to dig in and get results. Secondly, your away support for those games was unbelievable and it was one of the first times I saw the full force of the BAWA. The sheer volume and passion drove us on massively in those games and stuck with me throughout the year, just how incredible our away support really is. We’ll need that in abundance this Saturday if we’re to get the three points and I’m sure you will be there in your numbers.

Cliftonville away is always a tough fixture and we will have to be right on top of our game to get a result. It will be a day in which they will ask us questions defensively, but I’m confident we have enough to deal with the threat they possess. The five players who missed out last week will come in and I’m sure the gaffer will be delighted to have them back as they all have the quality to change a game. As for me, I serve the second of a two-match ban which is carried over from last season and I’m gutted to be missing out again. I’m chomping at the bit to get up and running this season.

Finally, a massive congratulations to Aaron Burns and his partner Hannah on the birth of their beautiful baby boy Asher and Aaron Traynor and his partner Shannon on the birth of their gorgeous baby girl. Two new Bannsiders to welcome into our family – good luck with the sleepless nights lads!

See you all at Solitude on Saturday for a big game and hopefully three points.

C’mon the Bannsiders!

Stephen O’Donnell