*Photograph: Joe Buckley

LIFFORD FC are “a sleeping giant” who are anxious to come alive in this season’s Maloney Garden Machinery Premier Division.

Adrian Walsh begins his first full season in charge of the Ennis club, when their campaign was commencing last year he was part of the squad but he assumed the role of manager just before October 2021.

Adapting from playing to management has been “very good” so far, he felt. “I’m a soccer man and I’m big into sport, it’s something I’ve always done three days a week, Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday whether it hurling, football or soccer. One thing led to another with the management, I was asked to do something and to be honest I’m enjoying it now more than when I was playing”.

Setting out his stall for the season ahead, Walsh was adamant that Lifford need to aim big. “We want to improve on last year, Lifford are a Premier Division club, we can’t be in the lower leagues, we want to be competitive with the big two and to go a step further than the Cup semi-final”.

It took extra-time before a Stephen Kelly header separated Lifford and Newmarket Celtic in that Clare Cup last four clash, that tie has the potential to stand to them, Walsh believed. “To be honest in sport you have to achieve certain wins with lads that might have fears or doubts, I know what it takes to beat both teams, we were competitive and we were very unlucky in the semi-final, Newmarket can get goals but the boys know we can be competitive, we are striving to be as good as the two standard bearers but we are concentrating on ourselves”.

To lay down a marker with both Avenue Utd and Newmarket, Adrian maintained it would all depend on “full commitment” on the training field from his charges. “We would be looking to play a good brand of football and be competitive”.

Walsh was adamant no mid-season lull would impact on their efforts. “We took over last year, we had an eleven a side in the winter and we will do the same this year, we’ll have the same numbers this year. I find pre-season is hard with the GAA and the good weather, we’ve had steady lads with thirteen and fourteen at training. That winter thing, you kick on in winter, you do a pre-season in winter and that makes you stronger for the finish”.

Strengthened by the addition of David Keenan, a striker with Ennis Town FC’s Premier Division side and Robbie Gormley who was centre-half on the Tony Downey managed side to contest the U19 provincial final, Lifford will aspire to climb up towards the top half of the table.

This is more than in their capability, Adrian felt. “Lifford is a sleeping giant. Since I’ve taken charge, I didn’t know the background on the running of the club when I was playing, there’s good people in the club, it’s a steady burner, Declan Farmer involved an elite coach in the underage, I’m doing my coaching badges, with other town teams not around, Lifford and Tage are now the oldest two teams in town, Avenue’s birth came from Lifford. There is a more of a focus in the club on the Academy, on an astro-turf and facilities”.

Lifford FC
Manager: Adrian Walsh (manager), John Maher, Rhys Phillips, Eddie Killeen
Captain: John Maher
Key Player: David Keenan
One to Watch: Eoin Monaghan
Fresh blood: Fiachra Roche (signed from Corofin Harps), Ryan Jennings, David Keenan (signed from Ennis Town FC), Robbie Gormley (signed from Ennis Town FC).
Departures Gate: Eoin Walsh (studies), Mattie Davenport (emigration), Paul Martin (emigration)

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If you’re here, you care about County Clare. So do we. Did you rely on us for Covid-19 updates, follow our election coverage, or visit The Clare Echo every week for breaking news and sport? The Clare Echo invests in local journalism and we want to safeguard its future in our county. By becoming a subscriber you are supporting what we do, will receive access to all our premium articles and a better experience, while helping us improve our offering to you. Subscribe to clareecho.ie and get the first six months for just €3 a month (less than 75c per week), and thereafter €8 per month. Cancel anytime, limited time offer. T&Cs Apply. www.clareecho.ie.

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