Sports

TIP TOP POINT

Tuesday, 15 November 2016

TIP TOP POINT thumbnailWARRENPOINT’S management team, from left, is Stephen McDonnell, Matthew Tipton and Mark Rimmington.

THE new manager of Warrenpoint Town Matthew Tipton, has said he is "proud and honoured" to have been offered the role by none other than Barry Gray himself.

It was announced on Saturday that the former Linfield, Portadown and Ballymena United striker would take the reins of the club after Gray finally stepped down after 10 years in the hotseat.

Tipton, who joined the club in July as Gray's number two, has promoted former player Stephen McDonnell to assistant manager, while Mark Rimmington completes the line up in the dugout.

Thirty-six-year-old Tipton, whose previous clubs also include Oldham Athletic, Macclesfield Town, Hyde United and Dundalk, takes over the NIFL Championship club as they currently sit three points clear at the top of the league.

Despite this, the new manager has said "you can never say never" when it comes to new players coming in during the January transfer window.

Explaining how the job offer came about, the Welshman told The Democrat that Gray revealed his plans to step down just a number of weeks ago.

“He told me that he was thinking of stepping down at the end of the season, however, he thought now was the right time for me to step up," said the new manager.

“There was no kind of timescale so I just kept carrying on with my work [as assistant manager] and then last Tuesday Barry said that we've no game on Saturday and then he said I'd like to make the announcement then because, with there being no game, it was an ideal time.

“I never asked Barry why [he wanted to step down]. I trust Barry on his reasons so I didn't need to go into the details, if he wants to come out and say why that's up to him.

“He's been a manager, a coach, all at the same time don't forget, physio and kitman, so maybe he feels he just wants a wee break.

“I couldn't tell you how proud and honoured I am that he believes that he can pass that responsibility onto me because even through knowing him the last six months and speaking to other people, he would never let anybody do anything at the football club. If he needed a cup of tea he'd have to tell you which way to stir it because he's that much of a perfectionist."

The new manager at Milltown refused to get drawn into his long term aims and is solely focused on getting the Point back into the Premiership.

If the club manages to bounce straight back up into the top tier after being mercilessly relegated last year thanks to a horrible refereeing decision on the last day of the season, Tipton said he would then start focusing on bigger targets.

“Let's take baby steps, we have to get promoted first," said the Wales U21 international. "We've a target in mind and I'm not so silly that I'm going to come out and start announcing them today as I've only been in the job for less than 48 hours but we have short term aims, we need to be out of this league as quickly as possible.

“We'll focus on that and then we'll take stock and chat privately about where we want to be down the line."

With the January transfer window just around the corner, Tipton says that while he is happy with his current squad, there is "always scope" for new players.

“I'm happy enough with the squad that we've got at the minute but you can never say never," he admitted.

“I'm not saying 100 per cent that somebody could be going in with somebody going out. These boys now, whether they've been in the team or out of the team, have all got a completely clean slate as far as I'm concerned because this is my team now.

“If we bring somebody in he'll have to be coming to play in the team, we won't be bringing somebody in just for the sake of bringing somebody in because we have strong squad as it is, we have 20 boys all chomping at the bit to play."

Although Gray is no longer manager of the club he took from the Mid Ulster League to the pinnacle of Irish League football, the Newry man remains Warrenpoint's Director of Football.

Tipton said he was looking forward to continue working with Gray and the rest of the board and sees the club getting "bigger and better".

“Barry has always been Director of Football, so it means I will liaise with him to link with the board," said Tipton. "We haven't outlined what the role exactly means yet but from my understanding is that I deal with Barry and Barry deals with the rest of the board.

“Our success off the field can continue and with Barry now focusing on that I can only see the club getting bigger and better."

Speaking after Saturday's announcement former manager Gray wished to thank everyone at Warrenpoint and said the journey was a "long but enjoyable" one and he was looking forward to "exciting times ahead".

First up for Tipton is tomorrow night's (Wednesday) huge League Cup quarter-final tie against his former club Ballymena United at Milltown with a 7.45pm kick-off, before league action resumes on Saturday as Warrenpoint Town host H&W Welders at 3pm.

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