IT WAS a slow week in the league this week with very little happening with any club. We re-signed two old faces with Iarfhlaith Davoren and Raf Cretaro (right) agreeing to stay for another season. They are two more positive signings and they increase the quality of the squad making us stronger as pre-season approaches. This is an important season for Dav as last year was a disappointing season for the Offaly man.
Rarely in football you meet proper gentlemen and Iarfhlaith Davoren is one of them. I hope he can rediscover the form he showed in past seasons. Raf on the other hand transformed his season after being mainly a bit part player until the second half of the season. Raf keeps the local connection which is vitally important to all Sligonians. Raf is a great pro as is Iarfhlaith and I hope they have many injury free years left with the bit of red.
Last Wednesday I attended the Allianz arena in Munich with two old Summerhill buddies Aubrey Dolan and Sean Flannery. It was a dead rubber between Bayern and Bate Borisov, but I enjoyed the game immensely. The most significant part of the night was the champions league anthem and I had the hairs standing when the anthem was played. It's funny we all immediately spoke about the music being played in the Showgrounds and the significance and meaning of that tune belting out. It's incredible how an anthem gets my heart pumping and I'm envious of the players who will stand to the anthem. I left the game thinking of the importance of European football and what it can bring to the club.
This year our priority should be to qualify through a European game. I know people will think automatically that it is to retain the league and I would love that. But, let's look at the bigger picture and for example look at Bate or Rosenborg. They have concentrated on getting through rounds of Europe and due to the financial reward the league looks after itself eventually. We compete with other sports and truthfully we are third to the GAA and rugby, Shams made a massive step last year why cant we make it? If Irish soccer is ever to breakthrough, this is our main avenue.
One of my biggest regrets in football was losing to Vlasnia from Albania and we had the chance to play Rapid Vienna a week later. Can you imagine the revenue the club would have received after that? We deserve a decent draw this year so Barca in the Nou Camp will do me.
As I had planned to retire from football this year I wanted to go back and play where my heart is Merville. However, Ballinamallard came calling and I could not turn it down so I ended up helping out with my old manager Frank Mc Garry and I love it.
We have an honest bunch of lads who give it everything on a weekly basis for us. Last week we played the Sligo Rovers under 19's in a friendly and I left the game thinking these young boys can really play. The work Gavin Dykes and Ciaran Kelly are doing with these lads has to be commended. I was impressed how comfortable every player was with the ball at their feet.
They looked physically and mentally ready to make the step up. The only reason these guys wouldn't make the promotion is application and maybe even belief, so I'm going to give a few names who really impressed me. They were: McManus, Feeney, Casey and (not to put pressure on the young lad) but young Armstrong was outstanding and looked in second gear.
They all have the ability ,they have the mentors so lets hope we see a few of these lads make the first team in the not to distant future.