Old friends Andy McGrory and Kris Lindsay will meet with new goals in mind
Andy McGrory and Kris Lindsay will share the Showgrounds stage this weekend on opposite sides of the white line but having each made the journey in search of fresh career chapters.
The two former Glenavon team-mates enjoyed success in Lurgan but each made the call last year to exit in a bid to enhance future prospects - with McGrory joining Ballymena aiming to cement a first-team starting spot and Lindsay leaving a coaching role for the opportunity at first-team management with Dungannon Swifts.
Both friends will enjoy a reunion before and after the serious business of building on welcome wins last weekend that helped to stop the rot following long periods of frustration.
The Swifts kick off a clean slate after a win over Warrenpoint signalled the end of a run of 10 successive defeats. Ballymena host Dungannon fresh from a first league victory since September, thanks to success against Crusaders.
“Having played with Kris, he was a warrior on the pitch and I know his teams will line out with that same approach,” said McGrory. “We must first win the battle before having the right to play our football.
“Both clubs come into it in a similar situation in terms of wins off long periods of not picking up results, so the goal for each is to push on.
“With players starting to come back that is a real bonus and we know how important the Christmas period can prove as the right run of results can help you really gain ground, or it can go the other way.
“Last season we probably operated under the radar but then coming into this campaign (as runners-up) meant opponents wanted the Ballymena scalp and that is something we’ve got to learn to deal with really, the added pressure and increased expectations.
“I’ve had a few issues but been able to play through the pain barrier thanks to support from the club and physio.
“Your body may not be 100 percent but it is about keeping your focus 100 per cent.”
Lindsay’s medal collection includes silverware secured alongside McGrory during a stellar playing career that extended into early plaudits as coach and manager - marking the recent run a first sustained period of disappointment within his life in the Irish League.
“You could certainly sense the relief after we got the win over Warrenpoint, for everyone around the club,” said Lindsay. “It was pleasing that we got both the result and performance we wanted and confidence should be improved off the back of those three points.
“It took longer than we wanted to get that win but now the weight of that result is off our shoulders we must use it as a starting point.
“It’s not about one result, it’s about building performances as I felt we deserved the victory against Warrenpoint over the 90 minutes so cannot let that slip away.
“Ballymena have some key players returning from injury and come into the match with increased confidence.
“But I was pleased with the character we displayed last weekend, especially after Warrenpoint equalised so quickly, so it’s about now moving forward together off the encouragement of everything from Saturday.”