‘First is a must’ as new boss McCourt bolsters Old Boys squad

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Banbridge YCOB have only be playing for two seasons but already they have planned a swift rise up the Mid-Ulster leagues.

After the original Old Boys team became Banbridge AFC in the 1990s, Trevor Anderson and Willie Cull reformed YCOB in 2013.

One year in the Newcastle League was followed by a move to Mid-Ulster Division Four and now the club’s new manager is determined to make sure they move up to Division Three after this season.

Kieran McCourt has hung up his boots after playing for Rathfriland Rangers and now, as he makes his first foray into coaching, he won’t accept anything less than first place.

“Getting promoted is a must for us this season,” he told the ‘LEADER.’ “For the players we have, we expect to go up and if we don’t manage that, it would be a bad season.”

McCourt has made as many as 10 new signings and one look at those new recruits goes a long way to explaining his optimism.

Top of the list is former Glenavon winger Paul Walsh, who has joined McCourt’s new-look YCOB squad.

“I’ve signed up to maybe 10 players, some of them big names in local football.

“Paul is buzzing to get going this season and if we can get him playing at his best, he will be very hard to play against.

“We also have Stephen McArdle, who was at Rathfriland Rangers and Banbridge Town, Shannon Drainey who played for Linfield and Banbridge Town.”

McCourt, then, has signed an experienced bunch of players capable of taking top spot in the division.

He has also assembled his own backroom team to help guide the former defender into his first managerial role.

“It’s a case of so far, so good really,” he said of his pre-season coaching.

“It’s different but I’ve been enjoying being on the other sides of things and starting off my coaching career.

“To be honest, I’m not even missing playing as much as I thought I would.

“We were a bit short of players during our pre-season firndly on saturday and I ended up having to play myself. Even during the game though, I realised that I would far rather have been on the sidelines than on the pitch.

“I have a good team with me as well. Shane Finnegan is helping me and we also have Simon Lawson, who coaches Linfield’s underage sides, helping us out at training.

“Davey McAnulty is also with us as a goalkeeping coach.”

With all of those taking care of the coaching, McCourt could be freed up to get back into his boots but the boss says thoughts of playing are not at the forefront of his mind.

He said: “I will sign a form to register myself for this season but I’m hoping that I won’t have to play very much this season. I’m hapopy to leave the rest of the boys to it and stay on the sidelines.”

McCourt’s YCOB side begin the season at home to Coagh United Reserves in the Marshall Cup on Saturday 15th August before beginning their league campaign a week later.