Belfast Telegraph

Club focus: Malachians

By Keith Bailie

Malachians manager Ciaran Devlin is still wary of the possibility of relegation despite their improved results.

The Mals had a slow start to the season, with their first league win not coming until October. Since then the north Belfast club have claimed seven wins, shooting them into the top half of the NAFL Premier Division table.

Reflecting on the season, Devlin said: "When you consider we made such a slow start, losing four of our first six games, then I think we can be pretty happy about sitting in mid-table. Overall, I am slightly disappointed, as we would dearly like to be challenging for trophies, but I'm pleased with how we have progressed over the season.

"This year was all about re-establishing the club after last season. I think from that perspective, we've managed to get the club back on an even keel. That said, I'd still like us to secure a few more points, so we can be certain of avoiding relegation.

"The teams at the bottom of the table are picking up points at the moment, so we can't afford to take anything for granted just yet."

Although the Mals endured a sluggish start to the season, Devlin wasn't surprised when his boys hit a run of form over the winter period.

"When you lose five games in quick succession, there are obviously going to be a few concerns, but I always believe this squad at the ability to climb the table. As the the season went on, we started picking up points and showed what we're capable of.

"Looking back on our season so far, I feel we could be higher up the table, as we've lost a few games we could have won, but I'm sure every manager thinks that.

"I've no real concerns about this team's fighting spirit. We've got guys like Mark McCourt and Danny Bell, who have been with the club for years. I know these guys will give everything right until the end of the season. Our fighting spirit helped us get away from the bottom of the table."

Even though there is only a few weeks left in the current season, Devlin hasn't yet turned his thoughts to next year. He's focusing on the club's remaining eight games.

"It's a little bit too early to start thinking about next season as we still have a few games left to play. Obviously I'd like to attract a few good players to the club, but it's very difficult in North Belfast - there are so many clubs fighting over the same lads.

"We've had internal conversations about what we would like to do next season, but it's not gone any further than that. We're concentrating on our remaining league games for now."

Although Devlin was wary of setting any bold targets, he is desperate to see his club win a trophy. In recent years, the Mals have been starved of silverware.

"I'm not going to burden the club by listing unrealistic targets. I know a lot of clubs around us would like to join the Championship, but my aim is just to put together a good team that will stay together for 10 years. A team that we can be really proud of.

"We've not won a trophy in years, so our big ambition is to get our hands on a cup. We will work towards that. It would be fantastic to see this club win a trophy."


Club: Malachians Football Club

Division: NALF Premier Division

Colours: Green and Black

Manager: Ciaran Devlin

Ground: Shore Road Playing Fields

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