Killymoon Rangers’ new manager George Dardis got exactly what he wanted for the first match of the season - the toughest possible start away to Lurgan Celtic.
Dardis has spent the whole summer bringing about something of a revolution at the Mid-Ulster Sports Arena-based outfit with the aim of changing the club from the ground up. On August 10 those new systems will be tested for the first time.
“Lurgan came in fourth last season, just a few points off promotion. They have plenty of money about them and are the biggest team in their region. They are a rough, hard team and they don’t give points away easily,” Dardis said.
“There could be no more difficult fixture but that is exactly what I would’ve wanted for these players. We will see exactly what they are made of and what this league is all about first thing.
“My hope is that Lurgan will be expecting an easy ride. But we have a new formation and a new attacking style of football which will hopefully catch them on the hop.
“Everyone has bought into our new ethos as a team. I didn’t think everyone would come on board so quickly but by the second pre-season game who could already see the team starting to adapt. I am absolutely delighted with that.
“We have relegation returning this year so our primary target will be to avoid the drop. However, the team’s attitude during pre-season has left me thinking that we will be looking up the league rather than towards the bottom.”
George said that the club have signed 19 new players while also retaining “99 per cent” of those that were at the club last season.
“We have a lot of players coming back into the club or from the local region. Every one is young and hungry and have perhaps not had the chance to shine (in other setups).,” he said.
“I’m all for giving them the chance and believe me, some will go on to be very good players at this level. They are hungry for success andthat is just the type of character I want at this club, and not just in the first team.
“We have had a total overhaul of the club including the second team which were hanging on by a thread. We have hopefully given solidity to the foundations of the club with new links with Cookstown Youth FC and a new seconds manager.
“We are able to give them the opportunity for them to show what they are made of and the first and seconds team will train together and adopt the same style so that when these young guys get their opportunity they can come into the team without a hiccup. Several of the CYFC players we have brought in this summer have already surprized me and are pushing onto the firsts squad.”