Belfast Telegraph

Downshire hopeful their title win is just the start of the good times

Newly-crowned Division 1C champions, Downshire YM
Newly-crowned Division 1C champions, Downshire YM

By Martin Mawhinney

Downshire YM manager Dan Thornton is warning Division 1B that his history-making side are out for more glory next season after winning the club’s first ever Intermediate title in over a century of existence.

The Hillsborough men first reached intermediate level football in the early 1970s, but it took until this season before they got their hands on a league title at this level.

It’s the third campaign that Thornton, together with coaches Andy Frazer and Dougie McDonald, has been in charge, building the team up to one that could challenge for major honours.

And now that they have begun the winning habit, as 1C table-toppers, it is something they are more than eager to continue into the longer term, as they target another move up the ranks.

Thornton remarked: “People have been asking me if I think we are ready for 1B - but I’d say the real question has to be: is 1B ready for us?

“We are not going up just to make up the numbers, and I think we are going to take a lot of teams by surprise next year.”

Certainly, if this season is anything to go by, there is every reason for the overwhelming confidence expressed by Thornton.

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The campaign begun with a win, a loss and a draw, but after this, Downshire went on an impressive 23-game unbeaten run in the division, topped off with a 1-1 draw against eventual runners-up Mossley in front of a bumper home crowd, which enabled them to finish two points ahead in the end.

Less than a fortnight later, the main stand at the Old Coach Road was bustling yet again, but this time for a different reason, as the Northern Amateur Football League chose Downshire’s home ground as the venue to host the Scottish Amateur Football Association for the annual Britton Rosebowl game.

It was an occasion that instilled a great sense of pride into Downshire. Aside from the fact that the local side emerged victorious for the third successive year, the visiting team were complementary of the setting… a fact Thornton feels that perfectly illustrates the good work at all levels of the club.

He said: “It is a great club - from the chairman to the groundsman and everyone else in between - and we are going from strength to strength. The Rosebowl showed that, as much as anything else.

“The goodwill gestures from the SAFA and their comments about how good the pitch was, is a credit to all the work that is done here. Really, that was something I appreciated about this club - from the moment I came down here, everybody bought into what we were trying to do.”

And now, they are most certainly reaping the rewards. A season that has seen Downshire reach the century-mark for goals scored, and amass a fantastic 13 clean sheets in a total of 26 games suggests that all is well at both ends of the pitch.

Put that together with everything that is being done off the pitch, and you have a recipe for success. It would appear that Thornton has a point - this is an exciting time to be associated with this long-established old club with a bright future.

Belfast Telegraph Digital


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