Improvement needed for Mayobridge minors says Poland

By Michael McMullan

MAYOBRIDGE minors will need to improve on their quarter-final performance, insists joint manager Francie Poland.

The Down champions were 1-7 to 1-5 winners over St Paul’s and now face Cavan Gaels on St Stephen’s Day (Shaw’s Road, 1pm).

When St Paul’s hit their goal midway through the second half, Poland had the uneasy feeling his side “were gone” and paid tribute to their resilience to rattle off a handful of answered points to push them over the finish line.

“We had a great spell and had them penned in from kick-outs,” Poland summed up. “We weren’t at our best and were far from it. We need to be better to beat Cavan Gaels.”

Poland stayed in on Belfast on Saturday to run his eye over the Gaels in their win over Irvinestown and was impressed with what he saw.

“We need to play a lot better if we are going to progress, we need to get another gear,” he said.

“They (Mayobridge) played in fits and starts but I know they can play better,” he said of his own team.

“That performance will not beat Cavan Gaels, not near it. Cavan Gaels are a serious outfit with a serious forward line and midfield.”

Last weekend was Mayobridge’s third trip to St Paul’s and their first win after narrow first round defeats in 1999 and more recently in 2008 when current coach Kevin McClorey was part of the team.

McClorey is a part of Poland and Eoghan Woods’ management team that also includes Robbie Coulter, Brian McMahon, Rory O’Keefe and Declan Mason. There are plenty of hands, but it takes them all.

Poland insists anything else is a bonus for a talented group that added the Down u-17 double to the same feat they accomplished at u-15 level with the Féile title also thrown in.

“They are a really good bunch of lads, they are committed and we have no issues with any of them,” he said, also pointing to the need to dig deep in a high scoring Down Minor Championship final earlier this year.

“We were seven points up at half time and Kilcoo came with two goals right away so we had to dig in deep.”

The beauty of the Ulster minor scene is the buzz generated around the trips to Belfast during the festive period.

It’s exciting times for the club having last been in the Ulster arena in 2008. Since then, only Kilcoo and Burren have won the senior title in Down.

For a club of Mayobridge’s standing, it is too long. After taking their eye off the underage development during their golden senior spell, Poland is happy with how things are back on track.

“If we can get close to a good performance and get into a (Ulster minor) final, it would be absolutely brilliant for the community and the club,” he said.

“From u-9s, u-11s and all the way up, we have good coaches looking after the teams.

“Hopefully we will be competing for senior titles in the next few years. It won’t happen overnight but to get back competing, that’s all we want for now.”

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