McMahon wants Downpatrick to celebrate promotion by winning title
Downpatrick have already secured their place in next season’s Northern Amateur Football League Premier Division, but the club’s joint manager Joe McMahon admits he won’t be satisfied unless they get their hands on the Division 1A trophy.
Their promotion has, in itself, put the seal on a three-year long ambition McMahon and his fellow gaffer Kevin Trueman have shared since they took charge together. Yet they want to do it in style, with a piece of silverware to cherish from the achievement.
“The aim was always promotion,” stated McMahon, “but when you get to this stage, of course you want to be champions.
“I remember when we came in, telling the committee they would have to be prepared to go down again (to Division 1B). We ended up finishing fifth in 1A that first year, strengthened again, and challenged for the league in the next season, then we strengthened again.
“I told Shorty (Trueman) at the start that if we did things right, the players would start coming back again - they all enjoy playing good football, in a good way.”
And that is exactly what has happened. In many ways, the last three years have truly been an upward spiral at Rosconnor Park - quite a turnaround from their sudden decline, soon after a golden couple of seasons for the club, which saw them follow up the 2008 Premier Division by finishing in the runners-up spot and reaching the Steel & Sons Cup final.
Yet while Downpatrick have cause for celebration, their neighbours and long-time top flight stalwarts Killyleagh YC last weekend were all but confined to their first season in the second tier of amateur football in 35 years. Other Premier Division clubs in the east Down area, like Kilmore Rec and Drumaness Mills have also endured a tough campaign at the bottom end of affairs.
And McMahon feels the two contrasting fortunes may lend themselves to more than mere coincidence.
He continued: “It used to be difficult for Downpatrick to keep their players from the area. I know when I was playing football, I didn’t want to play for them, because they were languishing in 2A.
“Once the club started on the rise, in the early to mid-2000s, players were staying more, and now we have got them on the rise again, a lot of players have been coming back to the town because they want to be a part of it. We must have about five or six players in the side who have been at Kilmore over the last two years.
“As for Killyleagh, they are our derby rivals, we don’t like seeing them go down. You want the excitement of the big derby games. We have played them three times in the Border and Clarence Cups over the last few of years, and it’s always a great experience.”
There is no question that capturing the league title would send a major message to the rest of the Premier Division - the teams they will be facing next season - but that is of no concern to McMahon and his Downpatrick comrades.
He added: “We’re not really interested in sending messages to other teams, we just want to win the league for ourselves.
“We’re not going to be shouting about title challenges and that sort of thing, but we won’t be there to make up the numbers either. No-one will have an easy game against us.”