Sports

McAree hungry for more Swifts success

Wednesday, 11 July 2018

DUNGANNON Swifts boss Rodney McAree has admitted their League Cup win has given everyone a thirst for more next season.
The Stangmore Park outfit lifted their first-ever senior trophy when they beat Ballymena United in the showpiece final back in February.
It was a historic occasion for the Mid-Ulster club, and McAree admits that taste of glory has give his players added belief that they can repeat the success in the future.
“It was a great experience and it highlights the achievement when you are invited back to the next season's draw. It isn't an experience too many Dungannon Swifts managers have had," said McAree.
“I think winning a trophy gives the players and club a belief that we can compete with teams. We beat Crusaders in the semi-finals last season and then Ballymena in the final.
“We would love to back it up and do it again, but it is so difficult."
Following the cup heroics the Swifts dropped down the table after losing four of their next six, which all but ruined any hopes of finishing in European playoff spots.
“This was our first major trophy, and we probably celebrated a bit too much afterwards. Our league form maybe dipped a little bit after," admitted McAree.
“We will learn from it. Winning becomes a habit and to win another trophy would give us even more belief."
As for next season, McAree admits keeping the club away from danger in the Premiership remains their top priority.
“Our target remains staying away from relegation and then seeing how close we can get to the top six. We are under no illusions because there are so many good teams in the league," he added.
“But there has to be a challenge and a target within the group after winning the League Cup.
“We have to kick on and go again. There are no weak teams in the Premiership so it gets harder every year.
“You have the Glenavons and Cliftonvilles, and Ballymena who have signed so many new players this summer. So it is very difficult."
One player McAree hopes will lift his team to the next level is striker Mark McAllister.
The Swifts announced in May that the the former Stangmore Park hero was returning to the club.
McAllister left Dungannon to join Linfield in 2009 and went on to enjoy a successful five-year spell at Windsor Park.
The 30-year-old then joined Portadown in 2014 where he spent three seasons before an unsuccessful year with Crusaders saw him struggle to earn regular first-team football.
McAllister then made a surprise move into Intermediate football in November last year when he signed for Annagh United.
Now the striker is hoping to rediscover his old form after returning to Dungannon Swifts.
“Mark is a fantastic centre forward. If we can get him that bit fitter then he could be a very good signing," said McAree.
“He is working hard and has lost some weight. He has a little bit more to lose but he can be a huge asset for us.
“I think when you are looking around during the summer, and trying to sign a centre forward, they are few and far between. Signing Mark was a gamble we were prepared to take."
And McAree believes McAllister and Dungannon could be the perfect fit as the striker looks to make a mark once again in the Premiership.
“I think if any club can get the best out of Mark McAllister then it is Dungannon Swifts. He came through the youth ranks here and he has a lot of respect for people around the club," McAree stated.
“I know personally that Mark will want to do the business for Dungannon Swifts and get himself in a position where he can compete for a starting slot in the team.
“Potentially it could turn into a very shrewd signing. That's the hope."
He added: "Ball into feet, there are not too many better than Mark McAllister at linking the play up.
“So if we can get a few more pounds off him and get him flying fit and injury free. I believe we can get a good season out of him."
Meanwhile, Dungannon have also added defender Jake Dykes to their squad ahead of the new season, which kicks off at home on August 4th against Ballymena United.
“We also signed Jake Dykes who is a left-sided centre half who can play left back also. It gives us options, especially with playing three at the back when needed," continued McAree.
The Swifts got off to the best possible start in their pre-season with a convincing 7-0 victory over Bluefin Sport Intermediate club Armagh City on Saturday.
A second half hat-trick from substitute Bailey Leonard in front of the visiting former Arsenal and Manchester City player, Paul Dickov was the icing on the cake after goals from Rhyss Campbell, Mark McAllister, Paul McElroy (pen) and Christopher Hegarty.
Up next for the Mid-Ulster men are Bluefin Sport Championship side PSNI FC on the 14th July.
The games then come thick and fast as the Swifts play four games in five days. Firstly, two Dungannon Swifts FC XI's travel to Annagh United and Dergview, respectively, on Tuesday 17th July.
They then entertain Larne FC on Thursday 19th July which will definitely be a great test for Rodney McAree's men with Larne pushing for promotion in the upcoming season.
The last game of the week will be another trip away from Stangmore Park to take on Loughgall FC on Saturday 21st July.
Pre-season preparations will come to a conclusion when the Swifts travel to recently relegated Ballinamallard FC on the 28th July.
Dungannon Swifts also announced T-Met Ltd as Official Sponsors for the next three years.
T-Met have been associate sponsors of the club for the past twelve years and the Swifts' Chairman, Keith Boyd paid a credit to Joe McAree MBE, who was instrumental in ensuring this deal was possible.

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