Its always nice to write a manager’s report whilst top of the league but May is a long way off and there’s an awful lot of football yet to be played. In comparison to our start last season we have made a lot of progress with the new signings settling in well. Not only have they bought into what we are trying to achieve at the club but they have also settled into what was already a good team spirit. There’s far too much experience within the coaching staff to allow the players to get ahead of themselves but they are also experienced enough to know nothing good comes easy. Our training has and will continue to be very intense but there’s no point in having a style of play if the players aren’t fit to implement it. They have, in fairness, embraced the training and coaching sessions so hopefully we will get better as the season progresses.
After speaking to other managers within our league this seems to be the toughest Intermediate A league for a long time and results have shown that to be the case. It’s a league that can throw up some unexpected results but we will treat every single opponent with the same amount of respect. We can’t allow ourselves to become complacent and the players are aware that there are capable replacements within our squad ready to step in if their attitude isn’t right. I’ve had discussions with each of the players and they know we will need the whole squad pulling together to have a chance of success. It could be a case of not getting any minutes one week and then starting the next game so they need to be ready both mentally and physically.
Our defeat in the Irish Cup was a difficult one to take but a harsh lesson for us in how to see a game out. Like this one there are games where we may not play well but still need to keep our work rate up. We have some tough cup games coming and whilst the league will always be our priority it would be great for the club and our fans to get to a cup final. The fans as always have been terrific and their unwavering support has not gone unnoticed. Hopefully we can continue to put a smile on their face.
Work within the Academy continues and great credit must go to the youth coaches who are working hard to provide local lads with a chance to play for our senior team. We have brought some of those young lads into the senior training sessions and hopefully they will benefit from this experience. For the club to be sustainable we need a supply of good local players and they will certainly have every chance of success if they are willing to put the effort in. Andy Martin and Josh Cargin have both made the step up from the reserves this season after playing for the U18s last season and the potential is there for more to follow their example. Conlon Morrison has had to step down in his role of Academy Manager due to work commitments and hopefully we can replace him with someone who is able to continue his fine work. Thankfully Conlon has agreed to remain at the club in a coaching capacity.
A final word goes to our ladies team who have excelled this season in winning the premier league title. Many of these girls have come through the ranks at the club and are now preparing to play Champions League football. Great credit must go to Jason McConville and all involved in this superb achievement. With Aoife Lennon winning the NIWFA Premier League Player of the Year award it caps off a wonderful season for them. Hopefully we can follow suit in bringing silverware to the club.
Yours in Sport,