BRENDAN Trainor is looking forward to his first out-and-out managerial role when he takes the reins of his native Augher this year.
Trainor assisted Lenny Harbinson at Antrim between 2018 and 2020 before the duo made the decision to step aside last season, and he was also a right-hand man at clubs like Ballymacnab (Armagh), St Pat’s, Donagh (Fermanagh) and Mullahoran (Cavan).
Now he’s taking the hot-seat at Augher, and it promises to be quite the challenge given that they have struggled to bounce back from their surprise defeat to Tattyreagh in the 2018 Intermediate Championship final.
Trainor, who works at St Ciaran’s, Ballygawley, commented: “Progress hasn’t been great for the last couple of years for one reason or another, between players being unavailable and the impact of Covid and one thing or another.
“Losing out in the championship final to Tattyreagh had an impact as well. They’d been on a real good run, played some wonderful football en route to the final and then just didn’t perform on the day.
“I think all of those things combined have left Augher where they’ve been in the last number of years.”
While he is still finalising his backroom team, it’s looking like it’ll be an all-Augher affair with former Tyrone player Aidan Cassidy, Patrick Treanor, Conor Hackett and Damian Kavanagh part of the set-up.
They’ll be hoping to at least fare better than last season – Augher finished joint-last in their Division Two group – and Trainor says it’s important that the club looks to the future rather than expecting accomplishments on a par with their ’70s and ‘80s teams (they won Senior Championships in 1976, 1982 and 1985).
“Augher definitely has a proud history, but when you look at any small clubs with a good history, it’s usually the case that a top group of players came through at the right time.
“A few special players (like Eugene McKenna) came through the ranks in those days and you can’t hold current players to those standards.
“They’re always compared to teams in the past, but the future is where you can make an impact and they’ll be trying to make their own bit of history.”
Trainor obviously has a fair knowledge of the players already – he’s from Augher, has trained underage teams in the clubs and got to know players through St Ciaran’s, Ballygawley as well. Still though, it’s the first time he’ll be wearing the bainisteoir’s bib so there are nerves as well as excitement.
“Your club’s your club no matter what, and when they come calling it’s nice that you’re able to say ‘yes’.
“I’m delighted and privileged to be in this position because it’s my first out-and-out managerial role. I’ve always been assistant or helping out with training because I felt I wasn’t ready, that I was still learning. I probably always will be learning but I’m happy to have the opportunity.”
While the senior team hasn’t been going well in the last few years, even more worrying was the lack of numbers coming through at underage level.
They were forced to amalgamate with their neighbours up the road, Clogher, and while that was a great help, they’ve taken the decision to go it alone this year.
“There was a worry that some of the older age groups at underage level wouldn’t be able to field, so the decision was made to field with Clogher, and it turned out to be of benefit to both clubs.
“However, we’ve looked again at the numbers and decided to go it alone again this year at youth level which is encouraging. We’re not the only club that are feeling an impact in terms of numbers but we’re deciding to give it a go on our own.”