When Bready were languishing close to the bottom of the North West Premiership throughout the vast majority of last season, David Scanlon’s message to his team was not to get too despondent.
And now that the Magheramason men have started 2014 with a three-match unbeaten run in the league, coupled with victories in the Irish, Ulster and Senior cups, Scanlon is emphasising the need for his young team to keep their feet on the ground.
Bready lead the league table and a victory over Eglinton on Saturday would be particularly significant, with heavyweights Strabane and Coleraine meeting on the same afternoon at Strabane Park.
But despite heading the title race, Scanlon insists he is not too surprised by their current position. “At the start of the season, myself, David Rankin and David Barr looked at the fixtures as senior players, and apart from the Donemana game first up, we looked at Ardmore at home, Fox Lodge, and then the Eglinton game this weekend, and thought we could have close to maximum points by that stage,” said Scanlon.
“If we can beat Eglinton that would give us eight points out of eight and with Strabane and Coleraine playing each other, it is a great chance for us.”
Scanlon has, not surprisingly, pinpointed Craig Young as a decisive difference between being strugglers last season and the front-runners so far in 2014.
The flame-haired young seamer has responded magnificently to the setback of returning home from the county game with Sussex.
“On the field you can see the difference he is making. Craig is still a young player but the experience he has got he is putting to use in training and even in batting down the order,” Scanlon explained. “Just having him back is a massive plus. Other clubs were interested but Craig always said he wanted to come back and play here because he loves Bready. Thankfully we were able to make it happen.”
Scanlon knows Bready will need to improve to sustain their position, and admits he was critical of the players after they struggled to beat Ardmore last Sunday. They have a hugely difficult assignment awaiting on Sunday with a trip to The Hills for an Irish Cup second-round tie against the 2012 winners.
Scanlon said: “They beat us by 14 runs two years ago and a couple of decisions went against us. But we get on really well with them, they’re a good bunch of lads and a very good side. But we will be going there and putting absolutely everything into beating them.
“We will be going there as underdogs, I watched their game at Glendermott and they’ve got so many good cricketers, they’ve quality throughout the team. It’s a good test for us, if we can win at Eglinton we’ll be going there high on confidence.”
Reece Kelly, the 15-year-old who top scored at Muckamore, is selected again for Saturday with Rankin having the cast on his hand removed on Tuesday.