Belfast Telegraph

Dungannon Swifts hoping to prove they have six appeal

By Staff Reporter

Darren Murphy is shifting his focus up the table this season, although he will still be keeping one eye on the relegation scrap.

Even as Dungannon Swifts prepare to kick-off their 13th campaign in the top flight, few at Stangmore Park are taking survival for granted.

In recent years, Dungannon have flirted with relegation, although their senior status has seldom been under serious threat.

This time, however, the Tyrone side can be forgiven for starting the new term with optimism.

A strong finish to the last campaign, coupled with some astute signings, has led to whispers that they could mount an unlikely tilt at the top six.

Boss Murphy is reluctant to set specific targets, but admits improvement is high on the agenda.

"First and foremost it's about Premiership survival," he said.

"However, the squad has got a bit healthier and a bit stronger, so it is now about trying to push on and we want to see if we can.

"Our focus is on trying to move up the table, but I'll still have one eye looking over my shoulder."

Not since the 2009-10 campaign have the Swifts finished in the top six. Last term they finished 10th, albeit a healthy seven points clear of the relegation places.

However, they were also 21 points behind sixth-placed Glentoran, suggesting talk of a top-half finish is probably optimistic.

Murphy has been busy in the transfer market, bringing in five players. A mix of experience and young talent, they include proven Irish League performers Alan Teggart and Ryan Mullan.

Cormac Burke, Dale Montgomery and Paul McElroy - all aged 24 and under - have also joined.

Dungannon have been used to losing their best players. This year, however, they have held on to their big names.

Jamie Glackin - shortlisted for last term's young player of the year award - has signed a new deal, while in January Ryan Harpur rejected a move to Crusaders.

David Armstrong and Andy Coleman have also penned extended deals.

Murphy added: "It has been pleasing that we have kept our team together. It is nice to be going into the new season with our best players available."

The Swifts open the campaign against newly-promoted Carrick Rangers this weekend.


Manager: Darren Murphy

Captain: Ryan Harpur

Key Man: Jamie Glackin

Big arrival: Ally Teggart

Big loss: Alvin Rouse

Last season: Tenth in Premiership and Irish Cup quarter-finalists

Ins: Cormac Burke (Institute), Dale Montgomery (Armagh City), Paul McElroy (Portadown), Ryan Mullan (Limavady United), Alan Teggart (Ballymena United)

Outs: Grant Hutchinson, Alvin Rouse (Ballinamallard United), Abby Sanusi, Jamie Tomelty (Lurgan Celtic)

Verdict: Battle for top six spot will fall short

Belfast Telegraph


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