By Kieran Lynch
MONAGHAN Harps are adjusting to life in the Intermediate Football League having been demoted from senior level last year, and after losing some of their more experienced players, manager Paddy Kelly says that his team are going through changes.
“We’re in transition at the minute,” he said. “We’re at a stage where many of the older lads have moved on and we have a lot of young lads starting.
“So, it’s about progression, and trying to get players to buy into our culture. The lads are very young, we have about eight or nine u-21s starting nearly every game, so it’s definitely a time of transition.
“It’s a huge challenge for the lads to come in and be expected to step up to the mark.
“Usually there are only a couple of lads making a breakthrough, but these boys make up a big portion of our team. But thankfully the older lads set a good standard, so it’s just about the younger lads bringing their energy to it.”
Whenever a crop of young talented players make a breakthrough in any club, it’s natural to be excited for the future, but as they cut their teeth at senior level, the league can serve as the perfect time for Kelly to try and find the balance between instilling a mindset of success, whilst also ensuring that the players are given the freedom to develop, without too much unnecessary pressure.
“There’s great excitement and it’s good to see; but they’re so young – four or five of them are still in secondary school,” said Kelly of his squad.
“You always want to create a winning culture, whilst hopefully learning at the same time. We’re in a stage now where we don’t know what’s going to happen from one game to the next. Most of all, you just expect the boys to give an honest effort and if you give 100 per cent effort and come up short, that’s acceptable.”
Finally, whilst it remains early days in the season, many clubs across the country will have their aims and ambitions declared well in advance of the start of the championship. However, as the Harps are still in the process of seeing where they’re at, Kelly won’t be getting too far ahead of himself.
“I suppose we haven’t really looked that forward down the line,” Kelly continued.
“I’m not trying to be cliché and say that we’re keeping our cards close to our chests, but that’s the truth – we’re taking it one game at a time. At this moment, we don’t know where we are really.
“It’s going to be a clean sheet for everybody come championship time.
“I’m sure there are teams such as Corduff or Magheracloone or Doohamlet who have been knocking about for a couple of years, who will have huge ambitions to go up.
“We were relegated last year and of course we’d like to go back up, but we’re looking no further than our next game at the moment.”