Belfast Telegraph

Search is on for new St Mary's manager

By Martin Mawhinney

St Mary’s stand-in manager Tom Mallon says the club are excited about their search for the man to take them on the next step of their upwards journey through local football.

The former assistant of previous boss Jimbo Robinson, who left his post last week due to family commitments, is hopeful St Mary’s well-established reputation throughout junior football and their rising stock as a new intermediate team will help them land the best possible candidate for the job.

Given that this is the first season the Portadown club have been in the intermediate ranks of Mid Ulster football, after a successful record of three Division 1 titles in five years, the platform is set for an ambitious manager to take them to the next level.

Mallon told The Park: “Up to now, St Mary’s have always looked to recruit from within, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that – indeed, we would ask anyone from within the club who is interested in the post to apply – but this is a chance for us to broaden our horizons. It is part of us developing as a club.

“Ideally, we want someone who can bring their own ideas and visions. I won’t be putting my name into the hat, but obviously if my services were needed, I am available.

“I do believe, though, as do we all, that there is someone out there to fulfil this role in a way that we will all be happy with.”

The tools for long-term success are all there. A new-look 11-person committee are doing all in their power to secure some nearby land to develop their own ground, but in the meantime, they have a minimum three-year agreement in place with Annagh United to share their facilities at Tandragee Road.

Mallon continued: “We are looking for either a long-term lease or to buy some land, which is difficult, but if there is a friendly farmer out there, who’d be interested in helping us, we’d be happy to hear from them.

“While we keep working towards that, we are happy and appreciate all the support from Annagh, and we are continuing to work towards getting the structures right at the club.”

That includes work both on and off the pitch. On it, Mallon admits things haven’t been as straightforward as many outsiders were so confidently predicting in the pre-season.

Most teams would be happy with St Mary’s current second-placed standing, but with the teams around them having games in hand, it is already beginning to look like promotion could be a tough ask.

However, the interim manager insists a top-two finish was never on the agenda for the men calling the shots at the Mid Ulster Intermediate B club.

“Our priority this year is to establish ourselves at intermediate level,” said Mallon. “Some people had got carried away before we had even kicked a ball this season… but not us.

“We knew a lot of our players had moved on to play at Championship clubs before this season, and although we still have a good group of players here, we are also hoping to get a few more during the Championship’s transfer window in January.

“Next season will be the big one for us, but this year, I think a top-half finish would be a good achievement. In saying that, we’ll keep pushing to get as a high as we can.”

In the meantime, St Mary’s can only benefit from the whole experience – win, lose or draw.

Mallon added: “I always say, if you don’t know what it feels like to lose, you can’t really enjoy what it’s like to win. We are learning so much about ourselves and as a club, and every result is part of that journey.”

To apply for the St Mary’s manager’s post, or for more information,  contact the club on 07595366153 or email before this Friday (November 29). 

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