Tandragee Rovers’ five-year record in Intermediate A can boast two Mid-Ulster top-flight titles and runners-up on three occasions.
However, manager Scott Walker will lead his players into this weekend’s opening fixture with many dismissing Rovers’ chances of a title defence.
“I keep hearing people say we were lucky to win the league last season but I am happy to work away under the radar as underdogs,” said Walker. “It is going to be a tough league this season but we are up for the challenge and looking forward to surprising a few people.
“We have lost Philip Pedlow to retirement and Jamie Rooney to Hanover so that affects us in the wide positions on either side.
“However, the squad is still strong overall and we have added players to replace those gone.
“Chris Mackle will come in with Irish League experience to play along the left and I have also signed Keith McVitty and Steven Haugh.
“I am happy with the size of the squad and the quality so will just go out and give it a go.
“Other teams have also strengthened of course but we will not be too far away.”
Rovers take into this season the benefits of defending champions unique to the Madden Road club.
“Consistency is important and we used pre-season to take on some top teams so we can learn as much as possible,” said Walker. “The club is still ambitious overall and a long-term plan is in place.
“We have worked on the pitch and facilities and fundraising is on-going but we want to do everything in the right way at the right time.
“The boys are super-fit and the older players bring great experience but there is a good mix of youth.
“In terms of on the pitch, we can go into the league off a rewarding pre-season and with a squad of players up for the challenge.”