Irish League star hails 'cheat code' that helped seal Championship promotion and backs youngster for bright future

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Limavady United are preparing for their Championship return after winning the Premier Intermediate League title last season and striker Joe McCready predicts a number of the young stars that helped the club seal promotion have bright futures ahead of them.

Paul Owens’ side were amongst the pre-season favourites and handled the weight of expectation in superb fashion, finishing six points ahead of Armagh City while they also collected the Craig Memorial Cup and North West Senior Cup during a memorable campaign.

Four of Limavady’s players – Graham Crown, Matthew Walker, Lewis Tosh and Alex Pomeroy – made the PIL Team of the Year while Pomeroy collected the league’s Player of the Year prize after scoring 20 goals.

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Teenager Tosh, enjoying his second consecutive season on-loan from Coleraine, netted 16 times across competitions, including in both cup finals, and 21-year-old John Butcher also caught the eye during a first Irish League campaign.

Limavady United celebrated treble success last season, including winning the Premier Intermediate League title. PIC: NIFLLimavady United celebrated treble success last season, including winning the Premier Intermediate League title. PIC: NIFL
Limavady United celebrated treble success last season, including winning the Premier Intermediate League title. PIC: NIFL

Having played for Dungannon Swifts, Coleraine, Institute and Ballymena United before rejoining Limavady last summer, McCready knows what it takes to thrive in the top-flight and he’s backing the young pair to go far.

"I was shocked when I seen Toshy for the first time when he came in,” he said. “Apparently he was playing left-back the year before and I spoke to Owensy about four or five times saying 'what were you doing putting him at left-back?!'.

"As soon as we pushed him out on the right it was almost like a cheat code at times. John Butcher was the same - he just has unbelievable ability. I've serious time for him and I think if they keep their heads down that him and Toshy have a chance to do really well for themselves.

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"There are more eyes on the Championship and for the likes of John, Toshy and Ruairi Boorman in particular, I think they have a real proper chance of being Premiership players in the next couple of years so if they keep going, you just never know what can happen or who is watching.”

McCready, along with 14 other players that helped deliver league glory, have committed to the club for next season and having seen some early predictions which include Limavady amongst the second-tier strugglers, the 33-year-old says there’s no shortage of motivation to prove any potential doubters wrong.

"Owensy's team talk will be done already for next season with people writing us off before we've even started,” he added. "I seen a few predictions and a couple have been posted in the group chat as motivation for next season.

"Some people are predicting we'll finish at the bottom so hopefully we can prove them wrong. I think it'll be extra fuel for the younger boys because they did well last year but it's about kicking on now.

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"We played the likes of Ballinamallard United and Dundela in cup competitions last season. We beat Ballinamallard 5-2 and beat Dundela 2-0 which flattered them and they were right up there challenging (for the Championship title) until the end.

"When we went up last time we let ourselves down and lost a few players. I left for Coleraine that summer too, but this time we've kept everyone bar Matty Walker and hopefully everyone stays and we can add a few too.”

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