O’Grady targets regular starting berth

Having made a successful return to the Central Coast Mariners’ first eleven, giant defender Paul O’Grady has set his sights on further starting berths and more derby success, starting with Saturday’s clash against Sydney FC at the Sydney Football Stadium.

Having made a successful return to the Central Coast Mariners- first eleven, giant defender Paul O-Grady has set his sights on further starting berths and more derby success, starting with Saturday-s clash against Sydney FC at the Sydney Football Stadium.

Prior to last Friday-s 1-0 triumph at Bluetongue Stadium, O-Grady-s season four contributions had been limited to a pair of substitute appearances, following on from a series of weeks where O-Grady was not utilised from the bench.

Thrust into action against a dynamic Newcastle Jets frontline that included reigning Johnny Warren Medalist Joel Griffiths and Ecuadorian international Edmundo Zura, O-Grady was among the Mariners- best on field and instrumental to their breakthrough derby triumph of season four.

O-Grady will now be hoping to build upon his inspired showing for the Mariners against the Jets last Friday when the yellow and navy-s derby themed fortnight continues on Saturday night.

"It-s always good to get ninety minutes under your belt, but especially to have a good win against the Newcastle Jets was brilliant," said O-Grady.

"For us as defenders it-s a bonus to keep a clean sheet, but it was such an important win because we were both on the same points, it-s puts us three points ahead of the Jets and gives us something to build upon in the next few weeks."

One of ten foundation Mariners players still on the Central Coast, O-Grady-s time in yellow and navy has been dominated by a stream of injury concerns that has restricted the 29-year-old to just 36 appearances in nearly four years.

Now fully fit, O-Grady is determined to replicate his strongest form for the Mariners throughout season four, that being eleven consecutive starts at the beginning of the Hyundai A-League 2006/07 season that saw the Mariners record three wins, four draws and two clean sheets.

With Nigel Boogaard and perhaps Andrew Clark returning to selection calculations on Saturday, in addition to the imminent returns to first team football of Dean Heffernan, Andre Gumprecht and Greg Owens, competition for places in the Mariners- starting side has seldom been as strong.

However, should O-Grady produce more performances in accordance with his standout showing against the Mariners- northern rivals, Football Manager Lawrie McKinna will most certainly be faced with a welcome some selection headaches in defence.

"You always put you-re hand up to play and you always want to play - to play well against the Jets was a bonus, but to get the win is the most important thing," said O-Grady.

"You always want to try and start, but we-ll see what happens this week at training as Nigel will probably be back, but the decision is up to Lawrie, we-ll put the effort in at training and whatever happens, happens.

"We-re always confident in ourselves, we always say that, to win away from home would be a bonus and Sydney had a good win last week, they won-t be easy beats, but it-s another derby for us and we-re really looking forward to it."

The Mariners- Hyundai A-League campaign continues at the Sydney Football Stadium home of southern rivals Sydney FC on Saturday, 1 November. Kick off is at 7pm.

The Mariners will return to their Bluetongue Stadium home on Saturday, 15 November, when they host AFC Champions League finalists Adelaide United. Kick off is at 7.30pm.

Tickets for this match are on sale from Ticketek outlets, from the Ticketek website - www.ticketek.com.au, or via phone on 132 849.