IRISH LEAGUE: Loughgall bring back former manager plus Irish League legend

David Johnstone. Pic by Paul Byrne.
David Johnstone. Pic by Paul Byrne.

Loughgall officials have turned to a former manager plus Irish League legend as a link to past progress towards securing future success for the club’s youth programme.

David Johnstone - who previously served the Lakeview Park club as player, coach and caretaker manager - will run the revamped under 20s’ structure with help from highly-decorated Portadown great Alfie Stewart.

Alfie Stewart was a special guest in Brownstown Park last weekend on behalf of Lurgan-based Gospel Goal for Portadown Youth's tournament. He has now taken up a role at Loughgall.

Alfie Stewart was a special guest in Brownstown Park last weekend on behalf of Lurgan-based Gospel Goal for Portadown Youth's tournament. He has now taken up a role at Loughgall.

It is a move designed by the Championship club’s committee to strengthen connections between the established Loughgall Youth outfit and senior camp plus enhance the existing pathway from the second-string to first-team football.

“My role as under 20s’ manager and Academy director will be to support Dean Smith as first-team boss in whatever way possible by helping prepare players for the opportunity to play for the senior team,” said Johnstone. “Alfie will come in as assistant across the board and it is a massive boost to have someone with his experience on board at Loughgall.

“We have talked for some time about working together and, having had a year out of the game, I am ready to get back involved and this is an exciting challenge for us both.

“It is important to work on the mental side of everything with young players and Alfie is respected across the game for his professionalism and attitude.

“He has so much to offer given his history in the game and we will also be confirming extra coaching staff down the line.

“We will be working with a good crop of existing under 20s and helping to shape the set-up, so the potential is really positive.”

Johnstone’s prime focus will be on the under 20s but he is relishing the chance to help knit together all aspects of the development process.

“The structure of Loughgall Youth will not change and I have worked with Alan Robinson in the past so know from first-hand experience just how dedicated he is, with that passion shared by so many other people around the club, like Ernie Smyth,” said Johnstone. “The idea is to have that bridge between Loughgall Youth and the parent club towards player development.”