Moneyslane fans could be forgiven for thinking they’re watching the wrong team this season.
It will be very much an unfamiliar line-up for any supporter taking in their first match of the new season.
In the dug-out is recently appointed manager Dan Thornton and on the pitch are precious few familiar faces.
Just a handful of last season’s promotion-winning squad have stayed on at the club while the boss has brought in around 15 new signings, with a couple more still in the pipe-line.
Slane begin their Intermediate A campaign with a local derby at Seapatrick on Saturday (kick-off 2.15pm) and most of their players will be making their league debuts for the club.
Amongst those to arrive at the club are former Dollingstown duo Adam Montgomery and Michael McClean, who both have experience of winning Intermediate A - knowledge that could come in handy in an otherwise young panel.
“Most of the people I’ve signed are between 19 and 23 so it’s very much been about building for the future,” said Thornton.
“The club needed an overhaul in terms of the squad. It’s taken four nights a week over the past two months to get that sorted but we have done that and with one or two more players, we’ll have a good squad there.
“Now it’s a case of trying to keep all the lads happy, but that’s my job. “I’ve brought a lot of my own players in from Downshire as well. My goalkeeper Scott Hamilton, for example, signed last week and brings a lot of experience, having played for Hearts in Scotland and Crusaders as well. We’ll need that experience in our young squad.”
Thornton is under no illusions as to the difficulty of the season ahead, especially after Dollingstown dropped down from the NIFL.
“It’s going to be a very tough league,” he said.
“It’s the first time that I remember that all the big Mid-Ulster clubs are in Intermediate A. Those other teams will be looking at us and Windmill Stars as the new-boys who will be favourites to go back down but they won’t know our team. Even Windmill Stars, who played with us in Intermediate B last season, won’t know us because of the big changes we have in the squad.
“We’re looking at other teams who have come up in recent years like Valley Rangers or Hanover, who have been up towards the top end of the league.
“The club committee have done a great job,” he continued. “I’ve been around Mid-Ulster and Amateur Leagues at all the top clubs and Moneyslane have the best set-up and facilities of them all.
“At our first friendly, there were over 100 people there. The boys couldn’t believe it. Hpefully the fans keep that up.”