A LOSS in the Armagh Intermediate Final last year has provided the prelude to a fresh onslaught for glory by a Mullaghbawn side currently making its mark in the league.
It could have been easy for the south Armagh side to rest on their laurels ahead of the new season. But, under the management of Peter McDonnell, they have instead upped the tempo in their promotion bid.
So far in 2019, they have recorded seven wins from seven matches. As a result, they sit proudly on top of the Intermediate League A at the half-way stage.
Their total of 14 points is well ahead of the three teams in second place – Clann Na nGael, Shane O’Neill’s and St Killian’s Whitecross.
But the good form has not happened by chance according to Peter McDonnell, the former Armagh senior manager.
“Our final last year was a one-point hiding because, although it was close on the scoreboard, people might not have realised that St Peter’s hit the bar three or four times,” he said.
“We realised that there was a need to strengthen our panel and that’s what we’ve been doing. The lads have put in a real commitment and thankfully things have gone well so far.
“There’s about 30 players now and they cover the full spectrum of professions. There’s students and lads making trips of really long distances to play with us.
“One fella is coming from the Netherlands, there’s other’s studying in Scotland and a few who are coming from south of Dublin.”
Seamus Strain is coming from the Holland each week, while Patrick Tiernan is the player studying veterinary in Scotland.
For all of them, though, the team manager had one simple message as they committed to playing.
“They’re making a bit commitment and what I’ve told them is to try and get out and do a bit of running during the week, and if there’s a ball to get a kick-about as well, just to keep themselves right,” he added.
“Things are working well so far, but we’re coming into the summer now, there’s seven matches left and we’ll be seriously challenged in the next few matches.
“Other teams know what we’re about now, they’re tackling hard and pushing up on us. We have to adapt our game to meet that challenge and that’s what we’re working on now.
“The team went through a bit of slump for a few years, but we’re trying to get back to senior. That’s our target and it’s a case of working towards it now.”
Joining Peter McDonnell in the management team are Martin McQuillan and Peter Leonard. Conor McCann is doing the analysis and Peter Og McDonnell is the goalkeeping coach. Their efforts and the support of the club generally will be needed even more now as their bid to win promotion again reaches its climax in the months ahead.