Larne F.C.

Association football club in Larne, Northern Ireland

Football club
Larne
Full nameLarne Football Club
Founded1889; 135 years ago (1889)
GroundInver Park, Larne
County Antrim
Capacity3,000[1]
OwnerKenny Bruce[2]
ChairmanGareth Clements
ManagerTiernan Lynch
LeagueNIFL Premiership
2023–24NIFL Premiership, 1st of 12 (champions)
WebsiteClub website
Home colours
Away colours
Current season

Larne Football Club is a professional Northern Irish football club based in Larne, County Antrim, that competes in the NIFL Premiership.

They are the league champions in Northern Ireland, winning their first league title in the 2022/23 season.

History

The club was founded in 1889 after Rev. Turner, Mr WN Brown and L. Jackson Holmes watched a game of football between Distillery and the Black Watch regiment of the army and thus took inspiration to create Larne FC on 14 October 1889.

The club in their early days would play against Ballyclare as well as the Fisherwick club in Doagh, when, amid the rise in football interest at the turn of the century, the club experienced relative success at a junior level, winning an IFA Junior Cup in 1901, as well as winning an Intermediate Cup and a Steel & Sons Cup prior to the outbreak of the First World War.

Larne would enter senior football for the first time in 1923, reaching two Irish Cup finals in the 1920s and 30s, before dropping out of senior football as a consequence of World War Two.

The following decades would see a relative amount of success for the club, with a first ever senior trophy win in the Ulster Cup in 1950, as well as a dominant period in Intermediate football over the next 20 years, winning a great deal of silverware.

As a result of the departure of Derry City from Irish League football in 1972, Larne would thus take the place of the Candystripes in senior football, with numerous relatively successful Irish Cup runs however the Invermen would never make it as far as the final.

Following the appointment of Paul Malone as player/manager in 1984, the club would have quite a strong decade that spilled into the early 90s, with several respectable league finishes and another Ulster Cup win in 1987.

The club would slip into decline from the early 90s, Malone would depart in 1991, with Larne being relegated to the old first division in 1995 with the next 8 years seeing a period of regular financial trouble and struggle to compete for promotion.

Tommy Kincaids appointment in 2001 saw a small revival for the club, achieving promotion in 2003 before Jimmy McGeough taking over in 2004. In this period the club would be defeated in the League Cup and Irish Cup finals to Cliftonville and Portadown respectively.

From 1972 until 2008, the club had senior status, but reverted to intermediate status when it failed to gain a place in the new IFA Premiership. The club regained senior status in 2016, when the NIFL Championship became the second tier of senior football for the 2016–17 season.[3]

Larne have notably been runners-up of the Irish Cup on six occasions (1928, 1935, 1987, 1989, 2005 and 2021) and runners-up of the League Cup twice (1991–92 and 2003–04) without ever winning either Cup - a record in both respective competitions for the most final appearances without ever winning.[4][5]

New Era: Kenny Bruce Investment 2018–

The club in 2018 was taken over by Purplebricks co-founder Kenny Bruce, when the club sat bottom of the NIFL Championship, had dwindling attendances and was in considerable financial difficulty. Bruce set out the aim to bring eventual European success to Larne through investment in the playing staff and facilitites.[6]

The club in January 2018 would cause significant shock in Irish League circles when Waterford United striker David McDaid opted to sign for the NIFL Championship club amid heavy interest from Premiership side Linfield.[7]

The club lifted the 2018–19 NIFL Championship title, comfortably finishing ahead of second-placed rivals Carrick Rangers by 17 points. This was the club's first ever senior tier league title, their first league title since an intermediate title win in 1972, and the first senior honour since lifting the Ulster Cup in 1988. This secured a return to the top flight for the first time since suffering relegation to the second tier in the 2007–08 season after failing to meet the criteria for the new IFA Premiership.

As was expected, Larne would compete in the top half of the NIFL Premiership immediately after achieving promotion, and in their first season in European competition in 2021, Larne would secure one of the biggest European wins for a Northern Irish club, knocking out Danish side Aarhus Gymnastikforening over two legs with a 2–1 win in Larne, and a draw in the away leg to set up a tie with Futebol Clube Paços de Ferreira.[8] after a 4–0 defeat in Portugal, Larne would take a famous 1–0 win at Inver Park in the return leg.[9]

In their fourth season back in the top flight, The Inver Reds won an historic first NIFL Premiership title in 2023 following a 2–0 win over Crusaders in April 2023.[10] Larne were part of an intense title race with Linfield.

Leroy Millar who signed from Ballymena United was a key player in their title success, he won player of the season for his performances. The Cullybackey native is a strong, powerful box-to-box midfielder who often gets on the scoresheet.

The January 2023 window was crucial for Larne as they added Joe Thomson and Andy Ryan to their ranks. This added to the growing number of Scottish players in the squad and they contributed greatly to the first title win.

Long serving player Fuad Sule departed the club in 2023 to sign for Glentoran in East Belfast.

As a result of their title victory, the club would make their first ever appearance in the qualifiers for the UEFA Champions League in the summer of 2023, taking on Finnish giants HJK Helsinki.[11] After a 1–0 loss in Helsinki, the Inver Reds would take the tie to extra time in Belfast, with the game ending 2–2. Larne lost 3–2 on aggregate.

Larne has won four County Antrim Shields in a row, from the 2020–21 to 2023–24 seasons. They are the only team other than Linfield to achieve this feat.

The captain of the club and their longest serving player is Tomas Cosgrove. He is known as a right back but has also been deployed in midfield by Tiernan Lynch. Cosgrove is one of many Larne players including Levi Ives and Aaron Donnelly who previously played for Cliftonville.

Midfielder Mark Randall brings Premier League experience to the club, he has previously played for Arsenal under Arsene Wenger. Left back Levi Ives has also played in England for Torquay United.

The most recent notable signing to the club was Chris "Cricky" Gallagher who signed from Cliftonville. On 13 April 2024 he scored a long goal in an 8–1 victory over his former club.

The 2023-24 season saw Larne go up against Cliftonville and Linfield for the title. Cliftonville fell short and finished third, while Larne edged out Linfield to claim the title for a second consecutive time.

Larne Women's Team

Larne also have a women's team who were originally formed in November 2004, before being reincorporated back into the club in 2018, having been previously dormant for a number of years. In their inaugural season, they finished the season as the unbeaten North 2 League Champions, and also as beaten finalists in the North 2 League Cup. They now for the first time play in the top tier in 2023 (NIFL Women's Irish Premiership) of the Northern Ireland Women's football league system after 4 consecutive promotions.[12]

Current squad

As of 10 July 2024

Note: Flags indicate national team as defined under FIFA eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality.

No. Pos. Nation Player
1 GK Scotland SCO Rohan Ferguson
2 DF Scotland SCO Shaun Want
3 DF Northern Ireland NIR Levi Ives
4 DF Northern Ireland NIR Aaron Donnelly
5 DF England ENG Barış Altıntop
6 MF Scotland SCO Joe Thomson
7 FW Northern Ireland NIR Conor McKendry
8 MF England ENG Mark Randall
9 FW Northern Ireland NIR Paul O’Neill
10 FW Northern Ireland NIR Lee Bonis
18 DF Republic of Ireland IRL Cian Bolger (captain)
21 MF Northern Ireland NIR Leroy Millar (vice-captain)
No. Pos. Nation Player
22 DF Northern Ireland NIR Micheál Glynn
23 DF Northern Ireland NIR Tomás Cosgrove
24 DF Northern Ireland NIR Sean Brown
25 MF Northern Ireland NIR Dylan Sloan
26 MF Northern Ireland NIR Corey Smith
27 MF Northern Ireland NIR Chris Gallagher
29 FW Scotland SCO Andy Ryan
30 FW Northern Ireland NIR Matthew Lusty
34 MF Northern Ireland NIR Oisin Devlin
36 GK Northern Ireland NIR Dylan Graham
- MF Northern Ireland NIR Sean Graham
- DF Northern Ireland NIR Ben Walker
- DF England ENG Ali Omar

Out on loan

Note: Flags indicate national team as defined under FIFA eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality.

No. Pos. Nation Player
MF Northern Ireland NIR Caolan Donnelly (On loan at Ballyclare Comrades until 1 January 2025)

Non-playing staff

Position Staff
Manager Tiernan Lynch
Assistant manager Seamus Lynch
First-team coach Gary Haveron
Goalkeeping coach Alan Blayney
Strength & Conditioning coach Stuart McCammon
Head of Physical Development Glenn Wilkinson
Head Physiotherapist Paddy Douglas
Head of Performance Analysis
Kit Manager Martin Bird
Physiotherapist Joe Crawford
Club doctor Adam McClintock
Entertainment Manager Lewis Perry McAdam
Chief Executive Officer Niall Curneen
Marketing Manager Dean Houston
General Manager Shay Kennedy

European record

Overview

Competition Matches W D L GF GA
UEFA Champions League
2
0
1
1
2
3
UEFA Europa Conference League
10
4
2
4
7
14
TOTAL
12
4
3
5
9
17

Matches

Season Competition Round Club Home Away Agg.
2021–22 UEFA Europa Conference League 1QR Wales Bala Town 1–0 1–0 2–0
2QR Denmark AGF Aarhus 2–1 1–1 3–2
3QR Portugal Paços de Ferreira 1–0 0–4 1–4
2022–23 UEFA Europa Conference League 1QR Gibraltar St Joseph's 0–1 0–0 0–1
2023–24 UEFA Champions League 1QR Finland HJK 2–2 (a.e.t.) 0–1 2–3
UEFA Europa Conference League 2QR Kosovo Ballkani 1–4 0–3 1–7
2024–25 UEFA Champions League 1QR Latvia RFS

UEFA ranking

As of 5 July 2024[13]
Rank Team Points
283 Northern Ireland Crusaders 4.500
283 Azerbaijan Gabala 4.500
285 Northern Ireland Larne 4.500
286 Luxembourg Progrès Niederkorn 4.500
287 San Marino La Fiorita 4.500

Honours

Senior honours

Intermediate honours

† Won by Larne Olympic (reserve team)

Junior honours

  • Irish Junior Cup: 1
    • 1900–01

References

  1. ^ "NIFL Premiership Football Grounds In Northern Ireland". footballgroundmap.com. Retrieved 26 March 2023.
  2. ^ "Larne FC owner Kenny Bruce lobbied Stormont parties to back embattled Mid and East Antrim council boss after NI Protocol letter row". Belfast Live. 14 May 2021. Retrieved 1 January 2022.
  3. ^ "Larne FC History". Larne FC Website. 26 July 2023. Retrieved 26 July 2023.
  4. ^ "Northern Ireland - List of League Cup Finals". Rec.Sport.Soccer Statistics Foundation. RSSSF. Retrieved 24 December 2012.
  5. ^ "Northern Ireland Cup Finals". Rec.Sport.Soccer Statistics Foundation. RSSSF. Retrieved 24 December 2012.
  6. ^ Purplebricks co-founder wants to bring 'Champions League music' to Larne BBC Sport. 23 October 2018. Retrieved 22 August 2019.
  7. ^ "McDaid: Why I chose Larne over Linfield". Belfast Newsletter. 12 December 2017. Retrieved 26 July 2023.
  8. ^ "Larne beat AGF Aarhus as magical European run continues". Belfast Live. 22 July 2021. Retrieved 26 July 2023.
  9. ^ "Larne complete European campaign with brilliant win over Pacos De Ferreira". Belfast Live. 12 August 2021. Retrieved 26 July 2023.
  10. ^ "Larne secure historic first Irish League title with 2–0 win at Crusaders". BBC Sport. 14 April 2023. Retrieved 11 May 2023.
  11. ^ "Honours Even as Gibson Cup Arrives at Inver". Larne FC Website. 22 April 2023. Retrieved 29 April 2023.
  12. ^ "Womens Team History". Larne FC Website. 29 April 2023. Retrieved 29 April 2023.
  13. ^ UEFA.com. "Member associations – UEFA Coefficients – Club coefficients". Archived from the original on 13 January 2013.
  14. ^ "Co Antrim Shield: Impressive Larne see off Linfield in gripping final to retain trophy". BBC Sport. BBC. 11 January 2022. Retrieved 31 January 2022.
  15. ^ Brodie, Malcolm. Belfast Telegraph Northern Ireland Soccer Yearbook 1999/2000. p. 11

External links

  • Official website
  • Larne F.C. on X
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