Proud day as Smith gets ready for key league date

Dean Smith. Pic by PressEye Ltd.

Dean Smith. Pic by PressEye Ltd.

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Kick-off at 3 o’clock tomorrow (Saturday) will mark the end of a wait for second-tier Irish League football that dates back over five decades.

However, the historical significance attached to this weekend’s NIFL Championship One debut appearance must be measured against the challenges across the remaining 25 league tests.

Dean Smith’s long-standing links to the club cover family ties and time at Tandragee Road as player and manager.

That connection puts Smith in a prime position to appreciate the progress made on and off the pitch from Mid-Ulster football to an inaugural campaign one step away from the domestic game’s ultimate stage.

The romantic may appreciate the story of Annagh’s rise up the Irish League ranks but the realist accepts the demands his squad can expect over the next nine months.

“Saturday’s game will be a big one for obvious reasons as our first in Championship One, at home and a derby,” said Smith. “However, that first result will not define anything one way or the other and we must be prepared for the full league programme.

“With relegation for three sides we have to go in aware of how every point will count.

“However, the progress made by this group over the past few seasons has come down to teamwork and team spirit.

“We have quality players as well of course and strong characters.”