It’s never easy writing a report after a defeat especially when it’s 5-0 but our game against Coleraine Reserves has to be used as part of our learning curve. We didn’t help ourselves in this game giving away 2 penalties and not playing to the standard we had set in recent weeks but great credit must be given to the opposition. They were the best young team I’ve seen in a long time and I will be surprised if the majority of their players don’t go on to play first team football. If we are to progress as a team then we must keep our performances to a high standard.
Previous to this game we had won four games in a row pushing us back to the top of the league. Our good result away to Dungannon Tigers was followed by another good win against the previously unbeaten Valley Rangers. This was a very good performance in front of another large crowd and we were well worth our 3-1 victory. We continued our winning run away to Richill in the Irish Cup and are now the only Mid-Ulster league team left in this cup. It was a game we made more difficult for ourselves by not taking any of the numerous early chances we created. John Smyth continued his good form by scoring a hat trick and we now have a tough game at home to Downpatrick in the next round. We took three points from our 4-0 home win against Broomhedge but in terms of performance it wasn’t good enough. Our finishing and possession within the final third was not of a standard that will win tougher games and the players were made aware of this. Mark Lowry’s hat trick was one of the few plus points and highlights that we are still work in progress. Unfortunately it was also John Smyth’s last game for a while. We wish him well in his career and he will be missed both on and off the field.
We didn’t get carried away winning four games in a row and certainly won’t panic after our latest defeat. The coaching sessions are adapted to suit any mistakes we are making and the players are all willing to learn which is a good sign. Fitness has not been an issue and this has been helped in no small part by the great work done by our strength and conditioning coaches Cathal Fegan and Conor Murphy. Both lads have set up varied game related sessions which have kept the players sharp and they have been welcome additions to the coaching staff.
Recently we had a reunion night for the 1987 CountyAntrim Shield winning team which was a great success and enormous credit must go to Decky McParland and Gary Wilson for the work they put in organising it. The majority of that panel were in attendance and there were plenty of stories retold over a few pints. This event highlighted the feel good factor that has returned to the club and has been enhanced by the large attendances at our home games. We are all aware that there is a huge amount of work to be done on and off the field to take us back to the level we want to be at but to their credit the committee, staff, players and fans have all bought into what we are trying to achieve.
I would like to take this opportunity to pass on my condolences to the families of Sam McCullough, Peter Woods and Tommy McConville. I remember Sam as Chairman when I was a young player at the club and his legacy will live on through his son Neil and grandson Gareth who are active members at the club. Peter was a former goalkeeper at the club and someone I knew well. I met him whilst he was down watching our preseason games and he was delighted the club was back up and running. I didn’t have the pleasure of knowing Tommy but have heard nothing but good reports about him. All three men will be sadly missed but fondly remembered and their passing will be marked by a minutes silence at our home game this Saturday against Oxford Sunnyside.
Yours in sport,