Andrew Cowden says now is the right time to step down as captain of NCU Premier League strugglers CSNI.
In a statement issued on Thursday morning, Cowden, who will be succeeded in the role by Graeme McCarter, cited increased family and work commitments for giving up the post just three weeks into the season.
However, he will stay on and support McCarter in what is likely to be a tough struggle with relegation.
Cowden, who led the club to the Arthur J Gallagher Challenge Cup last summer, said: “I have really enjoyed the last seven years as a player and in various coaching roles within CSNI and the successes during that time.
“I have really enjoyed my time as club captain, taking over at a difficult time from Nigel Jones, and I’ve enjoyed the successes as captain in the past two seasons with a Challenge Cup win, top four finish, an All-Ireland semi final and another Challenge Cup semi final, and I would like to thank all the players and club members for their efforts and support during this period. In a very time consuming role, I believe now is the right time for some fresh energy and more time invested after a difficult start to the season and a new era for the club. I look forward to continuing to play my part in the team in order to ensure we have another successful season this year.
“I would like to wish all the best to Graeme McCarter as he takes over as captain and also to James Kennedy in his role as vice captain.”
CSNI chairman Ivan McMinn said: “Family comes first and the club fully respects Andrew’s decision to step back from the captaincy role which he has undertaken so successfully for our club. As one of the senior guys in our squad, Andrew will still have a key role to play on the field, but without the added pressures of Captaincy.
“As Andrew said, based around his decision, now is the right time to hand over the captaincy to Graeme McCarter who will be ably supported by James Kennedy. Both men have lots of experience and this is exactly what we need right now as we seek to raise our performance levels at the same time as we are introducing our talented younger players into the side.
“As we move forward into a new era at CSNI, I want to thank Andrew for all the team has achieved under his Captaincy of our Club and also to wish every success to Graeme and James as they steer us through this season and beyond. I am in no doubt that this season will be another successful one for CSNI.”