Newry City AFC may be barely a year in existence, but the remarkable progress of the club was highlighted last Thursday evening at the Newry & Mourne Sports awards in the Canal Court Hotel, where they received nominations in two categories, while Senior team manager Darren Mullen was the recipient of a special achievement award for his services to Sport in the Newry & Mourne area.
Newry City Ladies team received a nomination for the Jimmy Davis Soccer award. Newry City AFC Special Olympics bowling club and Newry City AFC Special Olympics Club were both nominated for the Athletes with Learning disabilities award.
Newry City AFC Special Olympics Club
Newrycityafc.co.uk spoke with Special Olympics Club manager Esther King after the awards ceremony, who told us she was “proud to be local and proud to be part of the Newry City AFC Special Olympics team.”
Esther said the team enjoyed great success in the regional games in 2013 and look forward to competing in the All-Ireland games in 2014.
“Newry City Special Olympics club are very honoured to have 18 local athletes , four coaches plus three Head Coaches selected to represent Team Ulster for the 2014 All-Ireland Special Olympics Games. Having already qualified for selection through the Regional Finals in 2013, these athletes, who range from 10 to 65 years of age, will take part in Aquatics, Football and Bowling. Our clubs have over 60 athletes training every week in these sports as well as gymnastics. ”
Esther continued, “The athletes show true determination and dedication in their sport, overcoming many physical and mental challenges to participate to the best of their abilities. It only takes belief in them by their coaches and encouragement to believe in themselves, to allow them to reach their true potential.”
Newry City AFC Special Olympics motto is – Let me win. But if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt.
Newry City Ladies football team
There’s just no stopping Newry City Ladies football team. The girls have achieved phenomenal success since their formation in 2009. Last year the girls won the Northern Ireland Women’s Football Association Division one league – the fourth year running that the girls have won their league and achieved promotion! Incredibly, the girls have done this without losing a single league game.
When you look at the strength in depth they have in their squad, it’s easy to see why Newry City Ladies are such a successful outfit. The team boasts many international players, including: Captain Aoife Lennon, Ciara Mulvena, Aimee Mackin, Lisa McCann, Blaithin Mackin and Aoibheen Jones, Natasha Daryaie and Moya Feehan. Moya, who is the daughter of assistant manager John, has been the leading goal scorer every season for Newry since the club formed. Moya, still only 18, and now a full international with Northern Ireland, scored the winning goal against England during the 2013 U17 European Championships.
Ladies team manager James Feehan believes there’s much more to come from the girls over the next couple of seasons.
“Last season we were promoted to the Championship. We’ve played teams from the Championship before on a number of occasions and done really well against them so come the end of next season we hope to be up there going for another league title.
“We have added to the squad with new signings Julie Robins, Alison McMaster, Emma McMaster, Leanne Domican, Charlene Troughton and Laura Hegan – so we have plenty of strength in depth.
“Our number one aim is to be playing Premiership football. This is the league above the Championship, the highest division you can reach in Northern Ireland Ladies football. If you win the Premiership then you can enter the Champions League, where you play against the top sides in Europe. This is the standard we want to be playing at.
“At the moment though we are just focusing on the hurdles we have to overcome this season, starting with our first league game at home to Valley Rangers on Thursday 24th April.”
Darren, who was a youth coach at the club for over five years, was a key driving force in helping the club back on its feet after it was dissolved in September 2012.
When Newry City Athletic Football Club was officially launched in March 2013, it was announced that Darren would be leading the club in its new era as first team manager. He has since assembled a squad made up entirely of players from the locality. The team has exceeded all expectations of supporters, currently sitting at the top of the Mid Ulster Intermediate B league, with 12 wins from 14 games.
“I’m delighted to receive the individual award but it is more a reflection of the progress that the club has made in the past year”, Darren told newrycityafc.co.uk.
“It’s hard to believe that we are reformed a year. A lot of hard work has been carried out both on and off the field.
“The Club has evolved into a very well run set up made up of local people willing to give up their time and effort. The committee has done terrific work in ensuring things run as smoothly as possible and are continually looking to improve the club in all aspects. They deserve great credit for picking up the pieces and providing the assistance required to allow us to prosper on the field.”
Darren also spoke of the great strides the youth development at the club has been making, ensuring there will be a supply of talent right up to the first team squad for years to come.
“The youth coaching staff throughout the club have been working tirelessly. Our Youth Academy Manager Conlon Morrison deserves credit for overseeing the process. Our new skills school has also got off to a great start with 120 kids joining on the first night. In Paul Evans we have a coach who has great expertise in this area with the emphasis being on fun as well as development.”
Darren is pleased with the progress that the first team are making but with 12 league games remaining he knows there is still everything to play for.
“The Senior Team had another terrific win at the weekend over promotion rivals Dungannon Tigers, with our third 5-0 win in a row. The players all know the importance of promotion at the club and are maintaining a high standard, both in games and at training. Raymie, Micky and Jervis are continuously reminding them of the commitment required to finish the season in the right manner and we hope to achieve our goal of promotion.”
He added, “Finally I would also like to congratulate the Special Olympic and Ladies squads on being recognised at the Sports Awards. They represented the club through our rebirth in a terrific manner and deserve great credit.”