Annagh United’s Ciaran McGurgan happy with hunger on show in early-season league wins and Portadown cup joy

Annagh United boss Ciaran McGurgan
Annagh United boss Ciaran McGurgan

Annagh United manager Ciaran McGurgan has highlighted the hunger on show across early-season success as a major boost for the Tandragee Road club.

A 2-0 defeat of Moyola Park on Saturday left Annagh sitting pretty as the only side in the Bluefin Sport Premier Intermediate League with maximum points from two games.

United followed up league progress with a 6-1 success over Portadown in the midweek derby Mid-Ulster Cup date.

That game also offered a showcase of the club’s youth prospects and McGurgan views the overall desire on display to date as a significant encouragement.

“No-one is going to get carried away with the result against Portadown as they rotated the squad but that should not take away from what was an excellent performance on our part too,” said McGurgan. “Looking at our positives, we had nine teenagers in our squad but, beyond that, the manner of the win was really pleasing.

“We showed a real hunger to continue to push on for the full match and in the past that desire across 90 minutes has not always been the case.

“We now have another home tie, with Newry City AFC coming to the club in the next round of the Mid-Uslter Cup, so we will hopefully pick up a decent home gate.

“We want that competition across the board and Ruairi McDonald scored against Portadown having started on the substitutes’ bench on Saturday only to come off it to grab a goal over Moyola.

“Sean Mackle got two against Portadown, with Scott McCordick, Daniel Gordon and Ben Eagle also on target.

“Ruairi has bags of talent and probably wants to play in the number 10 role but has been used more wide on the right and now this season, since Craig Taylor’s departure to Dungannon Swifts, out on the left.

“However, he responded to not starting on Saturday in a great way by scoring, after Andy Gordon’s initial goal, so that hunger and competition for places across the squad is going to be important over the season.

“We make selections based on so many different reasons, including form, results, fitness, minutes and sharpness.

“But the ideal scenario is to have your squad up as close to optimal level as possible and able to come in and make an impression.”

Annagh now face Moneyslane in the Bob Radcliffe Cup on Saturday.

“We played Moneyslane in a pre-season friendly and know the importance of going into the match with the right attitude,” said McGurgan. “It is a competition we were disappointed to lose in last season and know Moneyslane will give us a tough test.

“They pushed a strong Newry side to penalty kicks in the Mid-Ulster Cup and we cannot think it is just a matter of turning up because we got a friendly win.”