Once upon a time, a certain R Carroll was partly responsible for keeping Manchester United at the top of the English game. Now, almost a generation later, another R Carroll – Roy’s younger brother Ricky – is charged with doing similar for Fivemiletown United.
It has been a promising beginning to the hot-shot striker’s debut campaign at Valley Stadium, notching a total of seven goals in his first seven games.
This form has not been reflected by the team’s overall standing, currently camped in the bottom half of Mid Ulster Intermediate A with two wins from four, but there is genuine hope that the return of a familiar face in the New Year could change all that.
Fivemiletown boss Davy McQuigg said: “We got Ricky from Lisbellaw United at the right time for us. We are missing Stevie Erskine till January – he broke his leg last season around April time after we foolishly let him play in the reserves when he was coming back from a knee injury.
“Stevie was our top scorer, and I’ve no doubt he’ll strike up a great pairing with Ricky. “But at the minute, we are having to adapt to a new system with the one striker and the five in midfield, with two pushing up now and again to make it a 4-3-3.”
Fivemiletown’s additional summer recruits Johnny Turley (ex-Derrychara United), Johnny McMahon (ex-Caledon Rovers) and Ricky McLaughlin (ex-Orchard Farm) all make that transition a feasible possibility, and while the club may not be rocketing up the table just yet, they have more than held their own on a match-by-match basis.
For instance, their 3-1 defeat by high-fliers Tandragee Rovers wasn’t as straightforward as it appeared, with Fivemiletown hanging at 2-1 until the final seconds.
Elsewhere, McQuigg’s side have shown they can be formidable on the goal-scoring front when they find their form, as Lurgan United found out to their cost as Fivemiletown smashed seven without reply against them in the second round of the Marshall Cup.
The other cup competitions haven’t favoured Fivemiletown so well, with them exiting the Mid Ulster Cup after a 3-2 defeat to Valley Rangers at the weekend, and getting put out of the Bob Radcliffe Cup following a 3-1 defeat by Dungannon Swifts Reserves.
The one competition they may well have a genuine hope in is the Marshall Cup, with Division 3 strugglers Santos providing their third round opposition.
McQuigg told The Park: “It looks an easy draw on paper, but I have never seen a match won on paper. Sometimes you’re actually better getting a tougher draw, as the underdogs usually seem to rise to the occasion in a cup match.
“It would be great to get a proper run in one of the cups, and the Marshall Cup and Premier Cup are our best chances.”
That theory will be put to test this weekend, when regular Intermediate A title challengers Camlough Rovers host Fivemiletown in the Premier Cup first round.
But despite McQuigg’s desire to flourish in knockout competition, the priority, as with most managers, is progress in the league.
And for McQuigg, progress represents mid-table at the very least.
He added: “The talk is that six teams will go down at the end of this season, with the restructuring of the league, so we have to make sure that we aren’t in that bottom six. I am confident that is a realistic target for this team.”