Hill Street playing it cool as title race heats up
Hill Street manager David Wilson believes there is little danger of his team suffering a New Year hangover as they go in search of the Mid Ulster Division 1 title in 2014.
In fact, he goes as far to say that their only league defeat of the current campaign might be exactly what the doctor ordered ahead of the crucial forthcoming months of the title race.
The Lurgan men have been on top form this season, and despite some tough competition from their rivals in a division which is notoriously difficult to win, they were on course to go through the season undefeated... until falling at the twelfth hurdle.
Wilson admits that the narrow 1-0 loss to Riverdale on December 14 could be a pivotal point in their season, but is determined to use it as a motivational tool for his players in their assault on the top junior division in the Mid Ulster Football League.
He reflected: “That was a bad result for us – they had one chance the whole game, and we had about 70% of the play – but everyone is going to get one of those results every season.
“Yes, the loss of those three points could come back and bite us on the backside, but we have to be positive and just put it down to a bad day at the office. We have put together a run before, and we can do it again.”
The fact that the defeat came so close to Christmas, and with their scheduled game against Coalisland Athletic postponed the following week, it has meant their match with Dungannon Rovers on Saturday was their first competitive action in three weeks… and Wilson believes that is no bad thing.
He continued: “Having the break did us no harm. There were a few injured players who have recovered and have come back into the first team.
“It has also given us a chance to reflect on where we are at the minute. We are out of the big competitions like the Junior Cup and the Junior Shield, and while we have a good record in the Junior Cup, it mightn’t be so bad that we are out of it earlier this year.
“For us, this season is all about rebuilding, and we are still in the Marshall Cup and the Alexandra Cup… but obviously the main thing for us is the league.
“I took over three or four years ago, and this is the best position we have been in since then. The guys are stepping up, and they know they have something to play for.”
That much is evident in the healthy spread of goals throughout the squad, with Wilson revealing that five players in the squad have scored over 12 goals each, and in doing so, already toppling the top scorer tally for last season.
Meanwhile, Hill Street have landed several major results that would suggest they mean business this season, such as their respective 6-2 and 7-0 wins over current top four rivals Ambassadors and Derryhirk United.
So what has been the big secret of their success to date? Simple.
“It’s a team effort,” claimed the Hill Street manager. “Like any team, there are individuals who stand out, but it’s what we all do together that makes the difference.
“In the same way, it’s never all just about the manager. I couldn’t do half the job I do without my assistant Timmy Dillon. He has worked under top managers and we are all benefiting from his experience.
“He takes great sessions and even has diet plans all mapped out for the players. These are the things that don’t always get seen, but deserve a lot of credit.”
Moreover, it is this level of attention to detail that just may land Hill Street the title come May.