Abbey CBS aiming to build on flying start to season in Danske Bank MacRory Cup

October 24, 2016

ABBEY CBS play St Ronan’s, Lurgan on Friday night  in what is already a top of the table clash in Group B of the Danske Bank MacRory Cup.

Both sides have won their opening two games, but it is the Newry side’s results that have raised more than a few eyebrows and even surprised Abbey manager Jody Gormley.

The Abbey have not just won those games, but done so in style, notching up impressive scorelines in Wednesday’s 3-13 to 2-8 victory over Monaghan’s St. Macartan’s and the opening day 3-16 to 0-4 win over St Patrick’s,  Dungannon.

But Gormley’s most pressing matter is working out his best starting team from a  panel of 49 players.

“What we are trying to do is work our way through them and see who has something to offer at this level,” said the former Antrim manager.

“So it is actually a bit of a challenge to give the boys that opportunity but everyone who has played so far has certainly taken it.

“It is difficult, but I suppose it is a good problem to have so many boys that want to play at this level for their school. And I think that is what has served us so well over the first two games, because there is a high level of competition among the players.”

Gormley isn’’t the type of man who will get carried away with the opening two results but he does feel his side is moving in the right direction as they target a first MacRory Cup success since 2006.

“It is very early days yet,” he said. “If I am being honest the results we have got so far has taken us by surprise.

“Our level of performance and our level of fitness has been very good so I suppose that reflects positively with what they have been doing with their clubs over the summer.

“I suppose everybody who enters the MacRory Cup every year has the ambition of winning it and we are no different, but certainly in the short term we are taking it step by step and ensuring that we get a high level of performance in each game.

“We have to make sure that the boys develop an understanding of how we want to play.”

Already the Newry team have established a football philosophy of high intensity  and moving the ball quickly.

Players like Saval’s Lorcan Forde, Burren’s Ronan Fegan and the powerful Blain  McGrath from Rostrevor have adapted to an attacking format but they can rely on tenacious defending from Mayobridge’s no-nonsense Shane Smyth as well as the strong Conor Cox from Burren.

However, Gormley insists that nobody’s position is safe on the team and he is prepared to change a winning formula against the unbeaten St Ronan’s in order to give his players vital game-time.

“We have changed personnel significantly over the two games so there seems to be an understanding that the ideal way to play is to move the ball fast and to move into space and certainly that is what has happened so far,” Gormley said.

“We play St Ronan’s next and we are sure they will bring a bigger challenge and it will probably be a truer reflection of where we are after the game.

“We will probably have another six or seven changes for the game and it reflects well on the strength of our year group.

“There are boys that we feel that can come in a do a job and continue where the guys left off from last week.”

Also manager of Belfast side Bredagh, Gormley has an Ulster Intermediate Football Championship quarter-final to prepare for against Monaghan’s Donaghmore on Sunday and he is enjoying life in management.

“It is good to be winning,” he said.

“Never knock winning as many a day comes and many a season comes when you don’t get too many wins, so you’ve just got to embrace it whenever you are winning.”

Should the Abbey pull off a result tomorrow, their title credentials will be greatly increased before their last group game against neighbours St Paul’s, Bessbrook on Tuesday, November 15.

Published in The Irish News 24/10/2016