IT’S all about the numbers game for Dromara this season after a more than encouraging return during the 2020 campaign.
Myles Cahill and Gary Farrell’s team raised a few eyebrows on their way to the Intermediate Championship quarter-final, where they lost out to Annaclone.
Prior to that though, after an opening-round loss to St John’s, they earned victory over Bright before gaining revenge on the Drumnaquoile side.
It was a sure sign of a young team heading in the right direction, and Cahill said that the 2021 season, whenever it does throw in, will be about backing up that progress.
“This year we want to cement our status as an intermediate club,” he said.
“We’d like to get out of Division Four (there was no promotion in 2020) and build from there.
“Last year we said we wanted to play three games in the Intermediate Championship. So you could lose the first, win the next and then maybe lose the third. We ended up playing four games and got to the quarter-final.
“The goal again will be to play at least three times in the Intermediate Championship and for the boys to get used to playing at this level.
“We held our own in my first season here (2019). The leagues were realigned and we were drawn into a play-off, which we lost, despite having a significant points advantage over Bosco.
“But we had performed well, drawing with Banbridge (Clann na Banna), drawing with Ballymartin, beating Newry Bosco, taking Annaclone to two points.
“Sometimes in the lower leagues you have a mentality that you only have to play at Division Four level, but that won’t be good enough.”
This will be Cahill’s third year in charge of the side, and second with Farrell as his joint-manager.
He said that their recent improvement owes a lot to the work being done at underage level in the club.
“Dromara have always had good underage structures and spent a lot of hours coaching their juveniles,” Cahill continued. “Gary and myself are lucky because we are reaping the benefits of the work of others.
“We have an exceptional bunch of young players coming through and another couple added to the panel from last year.
“When we played St John’s last year I think we had or four or five teenagers who started and another four or five under 22.
“The good thing about these young lads is that they have come through winning things.
“They have lots of respect for teams like St John’s or Drumaness or whoever, but they don’t fear them.
“We’ve all had clubs we didn’t enjoy playing. I hated going to Annaclone when I was a Tullylish player, but these players are coming through minor football with good records and having beaten these teams.
“We had found that for some reason they would be nervy in games against Drumaness and Teconnaught, maybe it was because they had played tight derby matches against them, but they are coming through with a good mentality.”
Cahill is also hoping that there are enough players floating around in the coming months to keep the reserve side alive and kicking.
“We had very good numbers last year, during Covid it was probably a good release, a chance to get out and get a bit of fresh air.
“I think all clubs will find it the same this year, people will look forward to it.
“Last year we entered a reserve team in the East Down League. For the first time in a number of years there were two senior teams in Dromara.
“The reserve team would have competed too. Those players were going well in training and saw it as a chance to fight for a place in the team.
“A strong reserve team will then feed your senior team, and then it should be seamless for players coming in.
“It keeps people on their toes too. If a starter sees a player going well at reserve then they know they can’t be skipping training or they could be in bother.”