BONAGEE UNITED made big progress in the Ulster Senior League last term – but manager Jason Gibson says the Dry Arch side have to ‘kick on’ this time around.
Bonagee finished third in the League last season and won the Knockalla Caravans Cup.
Now entering his second season as Bonagee boss, Gibson feels that they must build on the good foundations.
Bonagee begin their season on Thursday evening with a home game against Derry City Reserves in the Donegal News USL League Cup.
“We were happy with last year, but we move on now,” Gibson said.
“You get to where you are and you want to go again. That’s the challenge now. We got into third spot and nearly nicked the second spot late on. It’s a matter now of trying to break into that top two.
“Last year, we wanted to see where we were at and see how we settle. Those excuses aren’t there now; we just have to step up.
“Coming towards the end of the season, we went to Cockhill and won and we beat Letterkenny at home, so you could see the progress we made.”
Bonagee have lost the influence of Thomas McMonagle and Darren McFadden from last year’s panel, but with Ryan Rainey beginning to come into form at the latter half of last season and Garbhan Grant regularly on the mark, Gibson is confident heading into the new campaign.
He said: “People want to be competitive, no matter what League they’re in. I feel that we could be in that conversation now or at least not far away from it as Cockhill and Letterkenny’s likely challengers.
“We have 20 or so in the squad and there is competition all over the pitch. The attitude and commitment is fantastic. They know now if they take a weekend off, they could be out for a few weeks and that adds to their professionalism.”
Although the Ulster Senior League lost Swilly Rovers from its number in recent months, the USL have some new competitions in the pipeline – and GIbson says the intermediate league remains the top stage for local hopefuls.
He said: “I believe players should try and test themselves at the higher level. It’s a good standard of football. It’s a good level to be playing at and a good level for players to test themselves at.”
Donegal News USL League Cup
Thursday, September 12, 7.30pm
Bonagee United v Derry City Reserves
Sunday, September 15, 2pm
Letterkenny Rovers v Finn Harps Reserves