FORMER Antrim goalkeeper Chris Kerr has hooked up with the Grange footballers as the squad attempts to establish themselves as a noted senior team in the coming years.
Manager Peter Nugent has drafted the St Gall’s man in as a coach both for their goalkeepers and outfield players, and he said that his experience would be massive in helping the young panel progress.
“He has fitted in perfectly,” said Nugent. “We’re obviously looking forward to getting out on the pitch and working with him because he has so much experience at club and county level.”
The St Colmcille’s outfit have moved between senior football and intermediate football in recent times, but an Intermediate Championship title in 2019 secured a return to top-level football – and Nugent said that they are determined to remain there.
“When we put the Intermediate Championship away in 2019 we realised the age profile was favourable to us in terms of the next part of the journey,” said Nugent.
“You have seen teams before that have won the Intermediate Championship and it was a means to an end, a group of players who are maybe at the apex of their career. They maybe win one at 28, 29, 30 years of age and it has been their sole objective.
“We were quite lucky that our players were in the age bracket of 18 to 24. That’s where that championship was won. When you assess that you see that those guys have huge scope for further progression.”
That progression was starting to come to the fore last year in Nugent’s first year as manager having previously acted as team coach.
They remained in the Senior B promotion hunt as the league season was called in early, while they exited the championship after extra-time to a Killeavy side that came agonisingly close to dumping out Crossmaglen in the semi-final.
“We started tapping into our potential in the limited league games last summer,” Nugent continued.
“We were extremely competitive, winning games, drawing games. We were narrowly defeated by Silverbridge in a really good game, the second last game before the league was postponed. They were sitting at the top.
“In the championship game against Killeavy we also showed that we are where we belong and now it’s in the hands of the players and the management to reinforce that.”
Interestingly, Nugent expanded on the different motivational levels he encounters within the panel – something he said would be the same in basically every club team in Ireland.
“The boys are preparing on an individual level,” said Nugent.
“Everyone has a standard and I’m sure that’s the same with the majority of clubs. Some players are really on it and we are able to monitor that through an app system.
“We get player feedback, training load, preparation, energy levels over the course of the week and it allows coaches to give feedback based on the data.
“Things aren’t easy with things being restricted but you just have to remain positive and continue to emphasise that there will be an end to all of this.
“Not everybody is singularly motivated, some are easier to get through to than others. There are guys who can see football coming down the tracks and others would be more traditional in their approach and will say ‘come and see me four weeks out.’ That is something we are obviously trying to move away from.”