Shane excited at prospect of First Division football

ST. PAUL’S manager Shane McConville is excited by the fact his side will be playing Division One football next season.

“I have already told the players not to be too concerned about the theory e could go straight back down again,” stressed the former Armagh player. “I wouldn’t get overly excited about things in football but there is something about the challenge of playing in the First Division which is driving me on.

“Of course you could say we were disappointed after last Friday night’s defeat, but to their credit Shane O’Neill’s had already won the league. The current structures implemented this season gave runners up a chance to win the title in all three divisions and, while St. Paul’s would have loved to have won last weekend’s decider, maybe in a strange way justice was done as was the situation with Maghery in the first division.”

Shane McConville, during his playing days, gave total commitment in a St. Paul’s jersey, the Taghnevan man, however, had to wait until his seventh spell in charge of his club’s senior team to see a move to the top flight. “I have been in and out of management at the club over the years, said Shane. “This is my seventh spell in charge but all of us are looking forward to an eighth and playing in the top flight irrespective of what it brings. If the boys are better players after next season then that in itself will be a success.”

In his club playing days Shane was a typical midfield general who, in fairness, could have slotted into any given role. He fitted the description used to describe other dedicated and wholehearted club players like Liam Murray from the Sarsfields club, Barry O’Hagan of Clan na Gael, Clann Éireann’s Mark Beattie, Steven Burns of Éire Óg, Conor Coleman from Wolfe Tones or St. Peter’s man Paul Brady who all could be called upon in the heat of battle, but a spell in control of Clan na Gael’s seniors may have changed Shane’s management style.

“One of the things I learned when I was managing Clan na Gael in the First Division was that you have to make necessary changes immediately,” he explained. “If you don’t move quickly to implement changes on the pitch, the moment can be lost and indeed the game. Managers can find that hesitation can cause serious problems.

Despite losing in last Friday night’s decider, the Taghnevan side played with a system which saw them dominate the game for long periods they did, however, have to line out with a depleted squad and Shane McConville is aware of the fact he will need a big squad available next season. “We will keep the boys ticking over through the winter and hopefully face the 2013 season with an injury free squad. Unfortunately, every game next season will be like a championship match. Paul Grimley has a good spread of players from first division clubs in his squad so we will have to pick up as many points as possible when other teams are at a disadvantage,” added the St. Paul’s manager.

Shane, over the past season, had an influential role as chairman; the Lurgan club officially opened their splendid new facilities with a festival and a challenge game between Armagh and Down.

St Paul’s last played in the top flight back in 1986 having risen from humble beginnings yet went on to win an Intermediate Championship, contested two Armagh Senior finals and won the first division twice.