VIDEO: Annagh United manager Ciaran McGurgan ready for Irish League kick-off

Annagh United manager Ciaran McGurgan may have lifelong roots at the Tandragee Road club but his prime focus centres on the future.

Confirmed as first-team manager following completion of his coaching certificates, McGurgan will step out for his first opening league afternoon as Annagh boss today at Tobermore United.

Annagh United manager Ciaran McGurgan.

Annagh United manager Ciaran McGurgan.

Having stepped in last season, what was initially considered a short-term temporary solution turned into a long-term labour of love.

It should come as no surprise given McGurgan has grown up around the Annagh club.

“The club means a lot to me, with my dad Brian a founder member and everything,” said McGurgan. “I was taking the club Strollers team last season when we needed someone to step in at the time to tide things over.

“But I got a thirst for it and it was great to stay up so now we want to kick on.

“We never want to go through another season like that but now we have a big squad with experience and youth.

“We had to bring in experience over January to help the club survive in the Premier Intermediate League.

“The goal this summer was to continue to build that quality but also focus on youth, with something like six 18-year-old players coming into the club.

“We’ve still added senior players like Niall Henderson, who is a former Portadown captain, but the idea is the younger lads can learn from those experienced names plus offer energy in support.”

In a tale familiar to most Irish League clubs, Annagh’s summer plans suffered due to disruption caused by outside commitments. However, now United kick off the real business with a weekend road trip.

“It has been tough in pre-season given boys on holdays and everything, although having a later start to the league helps,” said McGurgan. “It has been frantic this year over the past few transfer windows but we want to move forward now.”