No hiding place for Slane stars as club target promotion

Justin Hanna, who has joined Moneyslane from Annalong FC.
Justin Hanna, who has joined Moneyslane from Annalong FC.

There will be no hiding place at Jubilee Park this season.

That’s the message from determined Moneyslane manager David Johnstone, whose club are desperate to cintune their rise up the Mid-Ulster ranks.

Moneyslane's new signing Gareth Rees.

Moneyslane's new signing Gareth Rees.

The club have been challenging at the top of Intermediate B for the last two seasons but the time has come to ensure they don’t miss promotion again, according to the boss.

“There’s no point hiding behind it,” he told the ‘LEADER.’

“On one hand, we don’t want to put any undue pressure on the players but as a club, we want to progress and at Moneyslane, the players have to play with that pressure.

“We’ve had two seasons of being in the mix so now we have to push on and get ourselves out of this league.”

Johnstone knows it will be no easy task and says his side must find a new level of consistency if they are to make it to the top Mid-Ulster division.

“Last season, our results against the top sides were excellent,” he said. “We beat Hanover three times and Valley Rangers twice but our problem was stropping sloppy points in the other games. We know we can compete at the top but we have to come with the right mentality every week.”

Johnstone has strengthened his squad over the summer, adding four new players in Gareth Rees, Justin Hanna, Ritchie Nesbitt and Neil Taylor.

“Gareth is a very quick player and is still very young. He scores goals from midfield so I’m delighted to get him on board,” said Johnstone.

“Justin, adefender from Annalong, has done very well in pre-season. He has a great attitude and he’s a good addition to bolster our squad.

“Ritchie has a great attitude and is a quick, strong player I’m delighted to have back at the club. Neil, a left-back, is strong in the tackle, heads the ball well and plays it simple. He’s another good young player who will have a chance to develop at the club.”

However, Jonny Gibson is unlikely to feature much for the club after the birth of his child while John Whitten is set to move to Australia in September.

Slane begin their season with a trip to Laurelvale on Saturday afternoon with Johnstone hoping his assistant manager Darragh Peden will be fit to play.

It’s back at home, though, where the boss is hoping to see the biggest improvement.

He said: “Jubilee Park was nearly a negative for us at the start of last season because teams seemed to raise their game coming to the new facilities but now we should know how to play at home on the big pitch and deal with it better.”

Meanwhile, Johnstone has appointede Glenavon U15 coach Matthew Newell as first-team coach for the new season.