STABILITY is the order of the day around Milford and Rathmullan ahead of their new seasons.
At Moyle View Park this evening, Noel Gillespie’s Milford United host Dara Patton’s Rathmullan Celtic in the Brian McCormick Cup, the opening game of the campaign for both sides.
Last season, Milford finished in fifth position while Rathmullan came home in seventh spot.
Improvement is the aim for both Gillespie and Patton (pictured above celebrating a goal for Rathmullan), who have added considerably to their ranks.
Milford have added former Swilly Rovers and Cranford United player Kyle Black – ‘a quality player’ in the words of his manager – while Adam Serrinah is another who has previously donned Swilly’s colours now on Gillespie’s books.
Danny McBride has come in from Cranford while veteran striker PJ Hagan will be on board from the beginning of September.
Gillespie has lost the services of Paul Shields, who has moved to Dublin, while Jamie Heena now resides in England. Johnny Logue is unavailable for tonight’s derby clash, but has re-signed for the club.
“We’re trying to build a squad here,” Gillespie told Donegal Sport Hub.
“With so many young players away from home, we’re operating off a small squad. We have four good additions in, but we’re hoping to add some more.
“We’re looking forward to the season. We want to get off to a good start and get a run in the Cup.
“We felt that we didn’t compete last season so we want to stay in touch and have something to play for, for as long as possible this season.”
There were some testing times by the Seaside last season, but Patton is aiming to restore steadiness to the ship at Flagpole Park.
The Rathmullan player-manager took the reigns midway through last season after Mickey Rodgers’ departure because of work commitments in England.
The former Fanad United attacker has taken in Ryan Gildea from Leterkenny Rovers to shore up a rearguard that has bid farewell to Kieran Gornan, who has rejoined Kilmacrennan Celtic.
Kevin Doran, who has Ulster Senior League experience at Kildrum and Bonagee under his belt, has been acquired, as have Conor McCullagh and young local lad Niall Carruthers.
Paddy Sheridan has returned from a spell at Whitestrand United, but Patrick ‘Burger’ Patton has retired.
Eamon Sheridan is unavailable for this evening’s game due to his work in Dublin, while Shea Coyle serves a suspension and the small matter of his school prom rules Ryan Connolly out of contention.
“At the start, when I came in, we were looking for stability, but now we’re very happy with the quality of player we’ve signed so hopefully we can be competitive,” Patton said of a club that won the Premier Division just two seasons ago.
“I took the job last year and I didn’t dislike it as much as I thought I would. I have Terry McCauley in doing fitness work now and we’re hoping to improve.
“There was maybe a danger that we wouldn’t finish out the season at a time last year so initially we just had to bring stability to the club.
“There are no weak teams in this Division and they have all strengthened. We’ll aim to be competitive and hope to push for the top four.”
The winners tonight will meet Whitestrand on Sunday.