THE clocks may have gone back but Irvine Meadow can look forward to the winter following the appointment of Brian McGinty as their new manager.

That is the opinion of Kilwinning Rangers boss Chris Strain whose Buffs side await the visit of their long-standing rivals in the pick of the New Coin Holdings West of Scotland Cup first-round ties on Saturday.

And his respect for newly installed Medda gaffer Gints is undoubtedly well founded given that Strain has fond memories of a four-year stint sharing a Meadow Park dressing room with the one-time Rangers and St Mirren winger. 

He said: “Brian is a very disciplined individual who you can rely upon to do things the right way and the Irvine Meadow officials have made the right decision in giving the job to someone who has known the club’s good times.

“He and I played many times together but it wasn’t all sweetness and light between us by any means because we were very opinionated players whose views didn’t always match and on those occasions we would cross swords without either of us budging an inch.

“But I put that down to both of us wanting to be winners as well as being the types prepared to stand up and speak our minds when flak was being dished out.

“And being at odds with each other didn’t do too much harm when you think we won every piece of silverware as team-mates barring the Scottish Junior Cup.

“Gints was always cut out to be a team manager and it was no surprise to me that he and Stevie Aitchison did a great job of rebuilding Bellshill Athletic before moving on and getting Rossvale’s ship sailing in the right direction.

“It was inevitable that a bigger club would come calling for them and though Medda have fallen on leaner times of late,  Brian will feel he can lead them back into the big boys playground.” 

The decline of the Irvine club is clearly illustrated by the record books showing their last derby match with Kilwinning occurred all of four years ago when a Strain-led Buffs team won 3-2 against Stevie Rankin’s Medda in an Ardagh Glass Cup quarter-final.

Strainy revealed: “We were the rebuilding team from a lower league back then while Irvine Meadow were the established big guns so there’s been a total role reversal in recent years that has kept us apart from each other to the extent the clubs have looked like ships passing in the night.

“But the intense rivalry between us and of course the two sets of supporters has never gone away and there’s been a simmering interest in this Cup game ever since the first round draw was made and a few lashings of added spice has now come from Brian’s appointment.”

Kilwinning sit third in the Super Premier and will be overwhelming favourites to advance however Strain insists his players are taking nothing for granted.

He added: “Ours has a stop-start season and that affects fluency so the guys may be unbeaten in our last five but I don’t feel they are playing at the top of their game by any stretch.

“What’s more important is they know it too and hopefully the atmosphere generated by a big crowd will bring out the best in us.”

On the team front,  Strain owns up to having almost a full squad to choose from with only midfielder Michael Wardrope (calf muscle) rated a non-starter.

McGinty, meanwhile, is aware of the task facing his side but is not cowed by it.

“I played alongside Carlo Monti at Pollok when he almost single-handedly saved us from relegation but there are more than just one or two top players you can pinpoint.

“Bryan Boylan, Davie Winters and Ryan Nisbet are dangerous strikers with an eye for goal and there are battling types in Finlay Frye and James Latta in midfield while the Scotland Juniors captain Craig Pettigrew is at the heart of their defence.

“Nobody can dispute that on paper Kilwinning have the better players but this is a one off Cup game and if my guys play to their maximum on the day then we stand a very good chance of causing an upset.”