SILVERWOOD United’s Stephen Toman is hoping recent success in the Mid-Ulster Shield may prove the first step towards sustained silverware.
The Mid-Ulster League Division One outfit remain top of the current standings and in the quarter-finals of the Alexandra Cup. Shield joy - recently wrapped up thanks to Pol Smyth’s penalty kick over Armagh Rovers - will help enhance the club’s standing within the local game but Toman is hungry for long-term gains.
“It was a brilliant feeling getting our hands on the trophy and it is not only a big piece of silverware but a competition with plenty of stature in the game,” said the United manager. “It marked not only our first-ever Mid-Ulster Shield victory but also the club’s first prize in over a decade.
“You look at the trophy and see some wonderful past winners.
“It would be great if the Mid-Ulster Shield win kicked off a run of challenging for trophies on a regular basis and, certainly, this season has turned out to be very exciting.
“To sit in with a chance of two more prizes is a credit to not only the players but also the committee, fans and sponsors.
“The guys at JP’s Bar have been wonderful supporters financially, in so many important ways such as club transport.
“We have brilliant fans and, as manger, I certainly appreciate the help from the committee.
“Damian McStravick came into the role of assistant manager midway through the season and I could not have handled everything without his support.
“We only had a few days between the semi-final and final so found sessions at The Recovery Room in St Paul’s GAA Club really helpful.
Although the prestige provided by a Mid-Ulster Shield trophy presents Silverwood with a ready-made badge of honour, Toman’s focus is very much on the future.
“It would be great if that win helped us attract players in the future as we have a really promising squad but you always want to strengthen when possible,” said Toman. “Adding five or six players before this season really helped improve our strength-in-depth and now it is about pushing on.
“To be honest, I rate the players on our books at the minute but felt they would need this season to gel together.
“In that regard, they have certainly exceeded all expectations and worked really hard to protect the lead under late Armagh Rovers pressure in the final.
“I was thinking back to four years before when we were 1-0 up over Windmill Stars but conceded a late goal and lost out overall in the final on penalty kicks.
“However, thankfully, we managed to protect the 1-0 lead until the end this time and there is a real desire to build on the success.
“It was really encouraging too to see us get a 4-1 league win on Saturday off the back of the final, with Pol getting two and other goals by Gavin Gowdy and Kenny Devereaux (Aaron Clarke scored the Hill Street consolation).
“We have achieved more than expected already this season but, now we still sit in contention so close to the end of the season, everyone wants a strong finish.”
The Silverwood United final squad was as follows: Michael Gough, Danny McNally, Dermot Kearney, Danny Magill, Dwyer Lavery, Colm Rooney, Sean Purdy, Michael Haughian, Shane Doran, Pol Smyth, Damian McStravick, Gavin Gowdy, Shaun Haughian, John-Paul O’Hagan, Stephen Toman.