'Junior Cup disappointment will spur us towards treble' says Silverwood manager
Silverwood United manager Stephen Toman is determined that his club’s season will be judged, not by their exit from the Junior Cup earlier this month, but by the capture of a remarkable and historic treble.
In the 16 years since their establishment, the Lurgan-based club have shown plenty of potential, moving up the leagues, picking up the odd piece of divisional silverware and progressing in the major cup competitions.
A fortnight ago, they bowed out of arguably the biggest knockout competition of them all, with a 5-2 extra time defeat against Harryville Homers in the quarter-finals of the Junior Cup.
Yet, despite his clear disappointment at losing a match he felt his team could have otherwise won, he remains confident that this will be the year Silverwood finally show they have truly arrived.
Reflecting on the game, Toman said: “We started off really well, but had a player sent off after two yellow cards in the first 15 minutes… we felt one of them was definitely harsh, but within ten minutes of that, we were two goals down.
“We pulled one back before half time, and felt we were the better side in the second half, and managed to draw level. We felt confident we could it to penalties and win, but the boys were dead on their feet, and Harryville punished us for only having 10 men.”
And while their progress and success in other competitions has meant Silverwood falling behind slightly in their league commitments, Toman stresses that this will not deter them from going one better than their runners-up spot of last season.
He said: “Hill Street are the team to catch, and they are 29 points ahead of us, but we have 11 games in hand, and I believe we are good enough to do it.
“Unfortunately, we lost our first league game of the season, against Riverdale, last Saturday, but we were missing six players that day. That said, we have a big enough squad to be able to cope with what is thrown at us.
“We are all obviously disappointed to be out of the Junior Cup, but I would take the league instead, every day. That’s your bread and butter.
“We have already won the Gerard Kennedy Cup, and are in the semi-finals of the Alexander Cup, so with the league to go for too, the boys know they still have the opportunity to make this a very successful season. If they continue to push and put in the time and effort that they have done up to this point, it is definitely there for them.”
Toman has been at the club, on and off, for the majority of the past seven years, and believes the current line-up compares favourably with anything that has gone before, including the Division Two title and league cup winning side of around a decade ago, and more recently, the sides which lost to St Pat’s YM in two Junior Cup quarter-finals, two years apart.
The biggest factor that the manager believes make this generation stand out is not only the attractive brand of football they play, but the blend of youth and experience he wants to see rewarded in this season’s final reckoning.
He said: “It would be great for the ones who have been here for a while – the likes of Damien McStravick, Danny Magill, Sean Haughian, Michael Haughian and Shane Doran – to win the league, for the loyalty they have shown. And they aren’t exactly old boys, either!
“They are the players you hope will show the new blood what it means to play for the club… after all, you want them to be the players who follow in their footsteps.”
There’s no doubt that a major trophy haul will be a major influence in helping to attract even more of that all-important new talent to the club, so expect a serious push from Silverwood in the weeks ahead.
Belfast Telegraph Digital