Lee Feeney’s appointment as Banbridge Rangers manager was good news for the club’s young players.
The former Rangers and Linfield forward is preparing his team for the Mid-Ulster Intermediate A curtain raiser on Saturday and he’s made it clear that he wants to win it with kids.
They begin with a trip to Fivemiletown United on Saturday (kick-off 2.15pm).
In with a good chance of taking to the field for the Gers are 17 year-old duo Danny McKinstry and Matty Holloway.
New boss Feeney has promoted the talented pair to the first team squad and he’s more than happy with his decision.
“I’m really, really proud of them,” he told the ‘Leader.’
“If we had a cup final tomorrow, I would have no hesitation in putting them into the team, they’re that good.
“They have been like new signings for us.”
Actual new signings have proved tough to come-by at Cheney Park. Former Rathfriland Rangers and Banbridge Town full-back Nathan Baird has joined the club, as has 19 year-old defender Ross Elliott, who arrived from Ballymacash Rangers.
Winger Neal Gawley, of course, joined after leaving Ballymena United. However, as Feeney explains, he won’t be pulling on the Gers jersey this season.
“It was a big coup for the club but then his work situation changed and he couldn’t commit,” said the boss. “I thought about it and if I want to get some professional into the team, I can’t have somebody not going to training and then leave other players out of the team.”
That leaves Feeney with 15 senior players and he is pursuing a couple more signings. If he can do that, he says he wouldn’t rule out a tilt at the title.
“It’s a new era for the club,” he said. “Hopefully I’m going to be at the club for a long time and I have to get a nice balance of experienced and young players in the squad
“The expectations this year aren’t of a title challenge but I would love to have a go at it. If we can get a good run before Christmas then maybe we could.”
If that happens, it will be a triumph for Feeney’s young talents.
“If we can get players like Danny and Matty into the first team and playing games, then the younger players in the club will see they can get that opportunity as well,” he said.
“It’s easy for bigger clubs in the area like Glenavon or Portadown to come and take our players. We want them to believe they are in the right place to develop.
“I will give those players all the care and attention they need to progress. If they prove they are too good to be at this level then I’ve already made it clear that I’ll be the first man to pick up the phone to the likes of a Premier League manager to recommend them.”