Club focus: Harryville Homers
The Homers of Harryville made it a May Day to remember last Monday, when they won the Coca-Cola Junior Cup and the Football Writers' Non-Senior Team of the Year award.
After losing to Strathroy Harps in last season's Junior Cup final, Harryville returned to Castledawson this year to beat Lisbellaw 3-1. The club were then honoured by the BT Sport Northern Ireland Football Writers' Association, winning the prestigious Non-Senior award at the gala dinner in the Ramada.
Manager Robert Duddy has only just recovered from Monday's exploits: “Monday was awesome. Our local pub laid on food and music for us, and we drank into the wee hours. When the news came through that we had won the Writers' Award it just gave everyone another lift and the party kicked up a gear. It was a night I'll never forget," he said.
Duddy believes last year's defeat motivated them to go one further this season.
“It was a great feeling to win the cup, particularly after losing the final last season.
“We were bitterly disappointed last year because we had played well all season and then on the day we were beaten by the better team in Strathroy Harps.
“We sat back and decided that we wanted to have a real go at it again this season. We strengthened the squad, bringing in three or four new faces, and really went for it.
“As the competition went on we grew in confidence, and we were superb in the semi-final. When it came to the final my job was to keep the players' feet on the ground, and thankfully they performed very well.”
Reflecting on the 3-1 win at Moyola Park's Mill Meadow ground, Duddy said: “Lisbellaw are a good team and they gave us a difficult game.
“After we made it 2-0 in the second half, they pulled one back and it all got a bit nervy. Thankfully we got the third goal, I knew then that we had done enough to win it. It was a massive moment for the club.
“The Writers' Award also meant a lot to us, because I believe we are the first ever Junior team to win it. It normally goes to a Championship side, so for a Ballymena Saturday Morning side to win it is very special.
“We were nominated last year and missed out to Ards, but we got the nod this season. We're all delighted.”
The Ballymena Saturday Morning League, the Junior Cup, the O'Kane Cup and the Top Four Cup are already in Homers' bulging trophy cabinet, but the club can still add the Ace Cup and the Rainey Cup to their sensational haul. If the club can win both trophies and negotiate their final few league games, they will finish the season unbeaten.
But will the dominate force in Junior football, join the ranks of the Intermediate game? Manager Robert Duddy believes it might be a few years before that ambition is realised.
“We would love to step up to intermediate level but there is a lot more to it then just putting a good team on the field.
“I honestly think this team could handle themselves in Championship Two, and that's not me being bombastic.
“But to become an Intermediate club you need your own ground with a fence and turnstiles, and we just don't have that sort of money. We would need somebody to come along and invest in the club.
“I know a lot of clubs who play at a higher level are struggling to make ends meet, so for now we're concentrating on staying at the top of the Junior game.”
Name : Harryville Homers
League : Ballymena Saturday Morning League Division 1
Nicknames : The Homers
Colours : Red and Black
Gaffer : Robert Duddy
Skipper : Gary Bonnes
Sharpshooter : Gary Bonnes
Most Skilful : Mark McKay
Hard Man : Keith Wylie
Club Comedian : Aidan Russell
Best Moment : Winning Junior Cup
Club Man : Gary Baird. He plays and he is treasurer.
Belfast Telegraph Digital