Father and son duo hoping to help Rangers to reach the Premier Division

It’s a bit of a family affair at Rathfriland Rangers these days with boss John Kernaghan master-minding the club’s season from the sidelines with his son Johnny likely to start in midfield.

They’re hoping that they can help Rangers into the Premier Division of the Amateur League.

Boss John doesn’t think that promotion from Division 1A this season is out of their reach, even though his squad is relatively inexperienced.

He said: “We certainly want to finish in the top four anyway but I think we have enough to get promotion. I genuinely do.

“I call things as I see them and I think we’ll give it a good push.”

“We’ve put together a good young squad, which we are very pleased with. We have a really tight-knit team and we have no so-called superstars. We will be playing as a team.

“We stuck to the original plan and have got in lots of young, hungry players. Our oldest player is 31, then we have one at 24 and the rest of the guys are all around 19-21.”

Kernaghan has further bolstered his squad with the signing of former Dundalk forward Conor Macken. At the other end of the pitch, the boss is confident his team have what it takes to reach the top league positions.

He said: “Centre-back Stephen Hutchinson will be a big player for us. He was with Warrenpoint when they went up to the Premiership. We’re very strong at the back in general and our goalkeeper Kieran Maguire is a really good player.”

Rangers’ campaign begins at Bellsbridge on Saturday as they take on former Tottenham and Northern Ireland star Gerard McMahon’s Dromara Village (kick-off 2pm).

“Gerdie will have their team very well organised and they’ll be improved. It won’t be a foregone conclusion but we will be going in looking to start off with three points,” said Kernaghan.”

Rathfriland are certainly going into the new campaign off the back of a good pre-season. In their final game, they beat a strong Newry City AFC side 3-1 thanks to goals from Johnny Kernaghan, Jason Gibson and Reggie Hillen.

Out of their six pre-season games, they won five, the only blip a 2-0 defeat to Championship Two side Lurgan Celtic.

Boss Kernaghan also thanked the supporters who cheered the side to victory over Newry.

Meanwhile, Rangers’ Reserve team will host Kilkeel side Ballyvea in a friendly on Thursday evening at 7pm and then travel to Saintield on Saturday for a 2pm kick off.