“In fifteen years of coaching, this is the best team I’ve ever had ,” County Tyrone’s Premier Team manager has told the MAIL.
“However,” Stevie Hunter warned ahead of his team’s first Milk Cup appearance on Monday, “ anything can happen in 90 minutes of football, and we will be taking each game as it comes.”
Hunter’s team take on Club America de Mexico in their first group match at Ballymoney before facing New Zealanders Otago at Portrush on Tuesday and a derby against Fermanagh at Portstewart on Wednesday.
“Everything is going very well,” said Cookstown man, Hunter. “We’ve had 10 good weeks of preparation and the team have gelled really well. We still have a few positions up for grabs but I can tell you this team is as fit as they are going to be.
“The squad is a mixture of experience and exuberance and only Ronin McDivett and Sean Lynch have not played at the Milk Cup before.”
This year’s competition marks Hunter’s first year as a Milk Cup manager, but after twelve years with Cookstown Youth and many other managerial positions, he can spot the potential in this Tyrone side.
“I think we are peaking at the right time and we will be hard to beat. Mexico will be technically very good, fit and skilful while Otago will be big and physical. Fermanagh are definitely Tyrone’s bogey team and we will have a fight on our hands there. But if we play to our potential we will get through.
“Conal Crawford is one of the best players I have ever seen. He and Kris Lowe have a fantastic partnership in the middle alongside the captain, Ross Lavery on the left hand side. Up front Mark McGarry from Cookstown will cause any team trouble.
“We are a good footballing side. I’m not a long ball coach, though we have a good few physical players who were able to compete with adults in our practice games.”
Unfortunately, Hunter lost defender Ben Hall after he was picked up by Motherwell.
“He’ll be a big loss to the squad but putting these guys in the shop window across the water is what it is all about.”
Premier Squad: Ronin McDivett; Shay Duffy; Conal Crawford; Kyle Deery; Arron Porter; Ben Sproule, Sean Lynch; Gareth Barbour; Robbie McDaid; Kris Lowe; Mark McConnell; William Donaghy; James Edgar; Ben Hall; Patrick Molloy; Larkin Mallon; Stefan McMaster; Ross Lavery; Eion Teague; Mark Rankin; Matty Young; Mark McGaray.