Slane boss demands a place alongside Mid-Ulster’s elite teams in 2015

Manchester United Legend David Healy, receives a Matchball presentation from sponsor Stephen Patterson, Aleviation Sports Massage. Looking on is Gareth Bingham, Moneyslane FC Select Captain.   � Photo; Gary Gardiner. IN BL WK 3214-502.
Manchester United Legend David Healy, receives a Matchball presentation from sponsor Stephen Patterson, Aleviation Sports Massage. Looking on is Gareth Bingham, Moneyslane FC Select Captain. � Photo; Gary Gardiner. IN BL WK 3214-502.

This time next year, Moneyslane will be stepping up to the top table of Mid-Ulster football.

Either that, or this season will have been a failure according to boss David Johnstone.

Last term, the club came within a whisker of promotion and, having bolstered his squad over the summer, the manager says moving up to Intermediate A is the minimum requirement:

“The players know that promotion is what we want this season. That is our aim and it’s vital that we kick on to that now after the Legends game and the good vibes that are around the club at the minute.

“When I took over in January, we were in mid-table and then we went on a great run when we won maybe 13 of 17 games and went into the last game of the season with a chance of getting promotion.

“That gives us a good platform to build on and gives us a lot of confidence going into the new season.

“Now what we have to do is turn that potential into results week in, week out. A league season is a long grind, it’s true that it’s a marathon, not a sprint.

“Yes, it’s important to get points on the board early doors but promotion won’t be won over these next few weeks.”

In order to forge their way into the top two, Johnstone says he will be looking at two of his new recruits to lead the charge:

“We’ve made five or six good signings but Darragh Peden will be key for us. He has such a wealth of experience and, outside the Premiership, I don’t know too many who could match his medal haul. He’s a leader on the pitch and a great organiser of the defence.

“Another key man will be Brian Quilty. He knows the Mid-Ulster leagues, having played for Dollingstown and Broomhill. He’s the type of player who can make things happen. Guys like that are important to have in a team.”

Scoring goals certainly shouldn’t be too much of an issue for Johnstone’s charges. Quilty will have goal-scorer supreme Gregg Harrison alongside him as well as two more than able deputies.

He said: “We have four good strikers in Brian, Gregg, Mark Ervine and Jordan Fairley, who did well for the Reserves last season and has stepped up well in pre-season.

“Our wingers are important as well because we want to play good positive attacking football. I’ve signed a couple of quick wingers who are good crossers of the ball.”

Slane’s season kicks-off at Jubilee Park on Saturday as they take on Laurelvale at 2.15pm in the Intermediate B opener. They then travel to Valley Rangers on Tuesday (kick-off 6.30pm).

“We’re looking forward to it,” said Johnstone.

“It hasn’t been the usual sort of pre-season with the Legends game. It’s been challenging for us because we haven’t been able to have as many normal training session as we normally would.

“We have a tough start to the season with the first three or four fixtures that we have been given but we’re going into those positively and with a lot of confidence.

“We have made good signings, players who have a lot of experience in Mid-Ulster football. We have a very strong squad now.”