Trophies are the target as Banbridge YCOB have a Cup upset in their sights

Player / Manager Kieran McCourt has high hopes for his YCOB squad, and why not after seven wins from their opening eight league matches. INBL1536-246EB
Player / Manager Kieran McCourt has high hopes for his YCOB squad, and why not after seven wins from their opening eight league matches. INBL1536-246EB

It’s a case of so far, so good for Banbridge YCOB.

The Division Four side sit joint top of the table and also have a Mid-Ulster Shield campaign still on the go.

Manager Kieran McCourt is understandably delighted with the start of his coaching career.

And he’s in bullish form ahead of the Shield fourth round tie against Division One table-toppers Silverwood United.

“We think we have a great chance of going through,” he said. “We feel we are as good as any team in there division so we don’t face them with any fear. It would be great just to reach the next round and take things from there.

“We’re also due to face Santos in our own League Cup. That match was meant to be played back in October but we still haven’t got to play it. There are two teams who are already into the semi-final without even having to play a game whereas we’ll have to play two games before we reach that stage but that’s one of those things.”

Fixture frustration has been a theme of the season and an annoying one for the fledgling boss.

“The hardest thing we’ve found is is having games called off,” said the former Rathfriland Rangers player. “We didn’t play in the five weekends before Christmas because of the weather and because a couple of teams pulled out of the league. That leaves you with a few free weeks already so it’s been very hard to get any sort of momentum going.

“We’ve played a couple of friendlies but you need to be playing competitive matches. To be fair to the lads, they have kept working away in training anyway. We’ve had over 20 every night at training so I can’t fault their efforts.”

And that commitment has shown on the pitch as YCOB have won five of their six league games so far.

“It has more or less gone to plan,” said McCourt.

“We dropped points to Millbrook in a match that we shouldn’t have lost but other than that, it’s been going alright.

“I’m loving it so far, to be honest.

“We’re just taking each game as it comes but it’s a case of so far, so good for us.”

The club’s success, McCourt indicated, is in no small part due to the professional performances of his stars.
He said: “All of our big players have delivered so far. Stevie McArle’s a different class. He suffered a bad injury when he dislocated his shoulder but he’s been playing really well. Then we have the likes of Danny McAlinden, our goalkeeper Andy O’Hagan and Shannon Drainey, who has been absolutely flying. He was with me at Rathfriland last year and came over but he’s been really good for us.

“Paul Walsh got our player of the month award last month too. He has been in and out with a few niggling injuries and work commitments so he hasn’t got as much of a run as he would have liked but his attitude has been first class.

“Other players have stepped up as well. We have Liam Devlin, who I didn’t even know played football until this season. He’s been fantastic.”

As for the remainder of the campaign, more of the same would do just fine. And for McCourt, a trophy is the minimum requirement.
“We just want to keep things going and see where it takes us,” he said.

“Word gets out and teams come out to get you. They start kicking all round them but we’re big enough to take it.

“We’d love to be sitting at the end of the season with at least the league title or a Cup under our belts.”