An Omagh club will never again dine at the top table: Roy McCreadie
The town of Omagh will never again have a top-flight Irish League club, according to Roy McCreadie.
It is 11 years since Omagh Town folded due to financial problems. Prior to that, under McCreadie, the St Julian's Road side created waves in the Irish League's top tier by qualifying for Europe on two occasions and constantly being a thorn in the side of Linfield, Glentoran and other bigger clubs.
In 2007 there was a concerted move to try and re-invigorate football in the town when Omagh United - an amalgamation of Omagh United Youth, Sperrin Athletic and Kevlin United - was formed.
Initially the project looked promising, and with McCreadie the manager, the team gained promotion to the Intermediate A division from the Intermediate section of the Mid-Ulster League, having started out as a junior outfit in the Fermanagh & Western League.
But there were major difficulties behind the scenes which ultimately led to the club folding at the end of the 2009-10 season. Since then no plans have emerged that would see a club from Omagh challenge the big boys again in the future.
St Julian's Road witnessed many memorable occasions when sides from Belfast and elsewhere came unstuck, but now it is a crumbling wasteland in a state of serious disrepair.
It has been reported in Tyrone that the local Council will release funds to work on the stadium, but McCreadie says what has been allowed to happen to the ground is an "embarrassment".
"St Julian's Road has basically been lying idle since Omagh Town left the league. It looks awful and is an embarrassment to the town now. It is located in a residential area and has become an eyesore," said McCreadie.
"I had hoped when Omagh United were formed that the town could get a club back in the Irish League. I was the manager but things didn't work out the way I had hoped and I would doubt now if a club based in Omagh will ever return to the top-flight.
"That is a real shame given what we achieved years ago and also because there is a lot of good football talent in the area."
McCreadie added: "That's why I'm pleased Ballinamalllard and Dungannon Swifts continue to stay in the top-flight of the Irish League because football in this part of the country needs that."
The ex-Omagh and Newry boss states that current champions Crusaders are an example of how Irish League clubs should operate.
"Crusaders had their tough times with relegation over 10 years ago and now look at them," said McCreadie.
"They have the best squad of players in the league and Stephen Baxter has done a fantastic job as manager.
"From the outside looking in, I think a decade ago they adopted short-term plans to move forward and are now adopting longer-term plans to keep them at the top for as long as possible.
"Other clubs should look at them and see them as an example. This didn't happen overnight. It has taken years for them to get to where they are now and what impresses me is that they aren't content , they want to be winners for years to come."
McCreadie was a big wind-up merchant during his time in the Irish League, with Glentoran the club he targeted most.
He said: "They are going through a rough time. I was sorry to see them in so many financial difficulties over the last few years. Hopefully they can come out of it and Linfield aren't the dominant force they were either. It shows that nobody has a divine right to be successful. You have to work hard at it on and off the pitch."