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McAllister sets out Swift vision

Pat McAllister has been confirmed as the new St James’ Swifts manager for the forthcoming season Pat McAllister has been confirmed as the new St James’ Swifts manager for the forthcoming season
By Paddy Tierney

JUST days after being appointed manager of St James’ Swifts, Pat McAllister has already set his team their main target for the forthcoming season – gain promotion to the Irish League.

McAllister stepped down as manager of Sport and Leisure Swifts, who are set to become Belfast Celtic for the 2019/20 campaign, following the conclusion of a disappointing season for the Glen Road Heights outfit.

Already battling to save their Irish League status, Sport and Leisure were slapped with five hefty suspensions in January following the abandonment of their league game against Portstewart.

Goalkeeper Michael Magill (eight games), defenders Padraig Lynch (six games), Niall McAuley (six games) and midfielders Stephen McAlorum (six games) and Ryan McAuley (six games) all missed a crucial stage of the season with the club’s assistant manager Oliver McAuley, father of Ryan and Niall, also stepping down in the wake of the bans.

Cliftonville legend Barry Johnston was brought in as McAllister’s assistant, but, despite an upturn in form towards the end of the season, Sport and Leisure were relegated prior to their final game against Lisburn Distillery.

In the immediate aftermath of the game, it was confirmed that McAllister was leaving Glen Road Heights and St James’ Swifts wasted little time in making an approach for the highly-rated coach.

Last week, it was confirmed that McAllister and Johnston would be taking over the Swifts and they’ve already set out their stall for the new campaign.

“I can’t wait to get started at St James’ – it is a different challenge,” stated McAllister.

“Football is in my blood and I’ve been involved for the last 30 years. I had one or two different offers, but I’ll always do what’s right for me.

“I’ve been really impressed with the people at St James’ and how they’ve spoken, but I am here for one thing and one thing only – that’s to win that Championship. Anything less will be a failure.”

McAllister also spoke of his reasons for stepping down at Sport and Leisure. It was an amicable split with club chairman Jim Gillen keen for McAllister to remain at the helm to guide the new Belfast Celtic entity into the new season.

“I think I got too comfortable there. I can’t speak highly enough of Jim (Gillen) and John Morgan, they treated me unbelievably.

“A few things went on last year, off the pitch, which weren’t acceptable at any football club. I probably went stale at Sport and Leisure.I was happy enough to take a break, I was working away.

“My only focus last year was to try and keep them in the league. I make no bones about saying it, at the end of the day, the players let me down with their dedication and commitment.

“It totally went towards the end, we were having to cancel training session and stuff. I do wish them all the best in the future.

“I didn’t walk away from Sport and Leisure saying that was me finished with football. There were things that happened last year that totally sickened me. I’ve still got a hunger to do well.”

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