Loughgall boss Dean Smith wants league points to follow Mid-Ulster Cup prize

Loughgall manager Dean Smith has set his players the challenge of using Tuesday’s senior silverware as a stepping stone for future progress.

By Patrick Van Dort
Thursday, 23rd January 2020, 5:54 pm
Updated Saturday, 25th January 2020, 1:15 am
Loughgall boss Dean Smith with the Mid-Ulster Cup. Pic courtesy of Loughgall FC.
Loughgall boss Dean Smith with the Mid-Ulster Cup. Pic courtesy of Loughgall FC.

A dramatic 3-2 victory over Glenavon at Lakeview Park left Loughgall as Mid-Ulster Cup champions for the first time in over a decade.

With a return to the Irish League’s top flight the ultimate goal, Smith now wants his squad to use that cup boost as a platform for points.

“To bring a senior trophy back to the club is a reward for so much hard work put in by so many people,” said Smith following Nathaniel Ferris’ double and a Scott McCullough goal to defeat Glenavon. “It is a lift for the committee, management team, backroom staff, supporters and players.

“Our club officials have made a commitment that, if in a position to go up, they will do everything in their power to make it happen - so it is about the players now producing on the pitch and that starts this weekend at home to Knockbreda.

“We have wonderful facilities at Loughgall, from a gym to the Lakeview Meadows training complex, so it is superb to see the level of ambition in place on and off the field.

“Only the top two eligible teams will be in a position for Bluefin Sport Championship promotion this season, as champions or via a play-off against a Danske Bank Premiership side.

“We can enjoy the Mid-Ulster Cup win then must switch focus back to preparations for Knockbreda and the rest of the Championship campaign.

“The aim is to carry the lift of a trophy win into the league and we may be punching above our financial weight but started the season off with a great run of form and now want to refocus bolstered by the final success.”

Smith’s squad will play host to Knockbreda from 3 o’clock aiming to close the seven-point gap on second-place Ballinamallard United, having played one game fewer.

“Nathaniel now has 20 goals this season and it is a testament to his hard work and dedication, plus you can see with experience the progress of his composure and finishing,” said Smith. “Scott has battled back from illness and injury and I have so much respect for his mental strength.

“He was superb against Glenavon plus has been in brilliant form overall, he seems to be improving with every game.

“Luke Cartwright made his competitive debut on Tuesday, Ben Neill has had to recover from injury and Fintan Coney is so young but offers his defence so much confidence.

“John Scott has also made fine progress and the development of those players into the firsts is a sign of the work by the under 20s and under 18s.

“There is a brilliant team spirit within the whole squad.”