Town manager prepares for life without key trio

Chris McGrath is set to leave Town this summer. INBL1546-239eb
Chris McGrath is set to leave Town this summer. INBL1546-239eb

Banbridge Town are preparing for life without a key trio.

Town stalwart Glen Waddell is set to retire this summer while midfield duo Chris McGrath and Ryan Gourley could be set to leave for England.

They are both looking at the prospect of moving to university, leaving two significant holes in the Town squad.

Gourley is the club’s Young Player of the Year while McGrath put in a series of outstanding performances in the centre.

Now, however, boss Ryan Watson faces the unenviable task of replacing them.

“We have to get working on it straight away and also get the rest of our current squad tied down. Hopefully they will all stay with us,” he said.

“Glen is retiring. Nothing is set in stone with the other two guys but we’re planning for life without them. They both played big parts in our season so we have to bring in some new guys to keep us moving forward.

“We’ve had a few meetings with the management team this week. It’s vital now that we get things moving because we think that we’re going to be losing all three of those lads.”

Watson has attracted the likes of Ryan Moffatt, Stuart Thompson and Stuart King to the club over the last 12 months but he knows adding quality to his panel is no easy task.

He said: “There is a lot of competition for players in this area and we’re all competing with each other for the same players sometimes. It’s nice to get business done early and we’ll be working on it.”

All that means that the close-season brings precious little rest for the manager.

As hard as he has to graft though, at least he can wave goodbye to the nerves of a relegation battle.

“Staying up on the last day has been very much a relief,” he said. “It’s been draining for everyone so it’s been nice to get a bit of a break and spend time with family.

“You never really want to have those sort of days but it was in our own hands and that’s what we were focused on.

“It going the other way doesn’t bear thinking about and we weren’t thinking about it.

“We couldn’t contemplate Banbridge Town not being in that division next season.”

But they will grace the newly titled Premier Intermediate League in the new campaign. The question is what will the team look like?