Slane pleased with Carmen’s opening day win

By Niall Gartland

IT was with a certain sense of relief that Carrickmore joint-manager Noel Slane assessed their opening round league victory over Dromore last Friday night.

Not only was it their first competitive outing of the new season, but it also marked Slane’s first game in charge of his native club alongside Ciaran McBride and coach Mickey Gallagher.

They were diligent in their preparations and played a string of challenge games, but nothing can entirely replicate the white-heat of battle and to their credit they were full value for their victory over the men from Dromore.

Slane commented: “It’s very hard, we had three challenge matches when we didn’t think we played that well, then we had a fourth game when it looked like there was signs of the new style of play we’re trying to implement.

“But when you come to that first game, you have no idea. I know myself and Ciaran and Mickey have had lots of conversation, and we maybe didn’t eat too much this afternoon [Friday], with the nerves, thinking about the first game.

He added: “We’re really delighted just to see the lads click into gear and get a win.”

“At the start of the year, we’re always keen to target our first couple of home matches.

“We’re very aware that Dromore were short a lot of players. While it was brilliant to get the two points on the board, we’re very aware that they were short men, so we’ll not be getting ahead of ourselves.”

Having been knocked out of the championship on a bitterly disappointing day out against Edendork last Autumn, Carrickmore pulled themselves up by the bootstraps and advanced to a Division One final where they fell narrowly short against Trillick.

The league is important to the club but only insofar as it serves as preparation for the Tyrone Senior Championship, which Carrickmore have won a record 15 teams, as Slane acknowledged.

“The league in Carrickmore is always for prepping for the championship. We’re a championship club, and I don’t think anybody in Carrickmore would say anything different.

“We go out in the league to try and get ourselves championship ready. We respect any team that we’re playing, league or championship, but we’re a championship club, so the league is all about getting ourselves prepped and trying to develop a style of play that we can give a good account of ourselves in the championship.”

Carrickmore host Ardboe this evening [Thursday] in their second game of the season, and Slane knows the importance of chalking up a few wins early doors.

“We’re in as a new management team and one of the first things, when you’re bringing a different system or style of play, is to try and get a couple of wins, where those new styles or things that you’re done are embedded, that there’s a bit of buy-in.

“So that’s one of the things that the league is good for, that you can try those things in games and situations that are maybe not as high pressured.”

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