Few in football know Warner Mullen better than Gerald Boyle - and the Loughgall manager is thrilled to have a prime view of his striker’s top form.
Mullen’s tally of nine goals across the January schedule secured a prize as Championship Player of the Month from the Northern Ireland Football Writers’ Association.
He managed to maintain that scoring sequence in the first fixture of February with a weekend brace to see off PSNI and send Loughgall marching into the Irish Cup quarter-finals for the first time in over a decade.
Boyle, a recent arrival at Lakeview Park in the role of manager, feels Mullen has added an extra edge to his game.
“I have just come into the club as manager but know Warner from way back,” said Boyle. “We played in the same side and also worked in the same school so would be friends off the field.
“He is flying at the minute but there was never any doubt in my mind over his ability.
“The award recognition is a nice boost and it is great for the player and club to see Warner’s profile on the rise.
“There is a real drive about his game at present and that extra focus is paying off in front of goal.
“Over the years he has always been a creative player as much as a goalscorer but now appears to have added a selfish streak to his play.
“His partnership with Daniel Ryan is a great combination of the two players’ talents.
“Warner is hungry and, like so many of the players on the books, ambitious to achieve success at this club.”
Progress will include a quarter-final visit to Mourneview Park next month - with Boyle delighted at recent results.
“Results have been good and there is a feelgood facto around the club,” said Boyle. “There is also a nice balance within the squad of younger players and those with experience.
“The commitment has been excellent and everyone is working together across the club.
“Steven Hawe and Stephen Uprichard have so much experience and respect in the game.
“It helps that I have come into a management team with previous knowledge of Steven and Stephen.
“I have also worked with some of the players in the past during the Regions’ Cup squads.
“Plus, I spent around a season as a Loughgall player under Niall Currie so know various people behind the scenes.
“We have a free date this weekend but want to organise a friendly to help keep everyone sharp and give players a chance to build up minutes.”
The full Irish Cup quarter-final draw (Saturday, March 5 from 3 o’clock): Carrick Rangers\Crumlin Star v Crusaders, Cliftonville v Linfield, Glenavon v Loughgall, Portadown v Lurgan Celtic.