Name: Markethill Swifts Football Club
League: Intermediate B
Ground: Kilcluney Park
Colours: Yellow, Blue, Yellow
Manager: Philip McComb
Captain: Mark Dickson
In the latest instalment of our Intermediate Profile, we take a closer look at Mid Ulster side Markethill Swifts, who have been enjoying an excellent season. Despite exiting the Marshall Cup at the hands of Hanover last week, the Kilcluney Park men remain well and truly in the hunt for the Intermediate B title.
We caught up with Swift’s gaffer Philip McComb who initially reflects on the clubs 4th place finish last season. “I thought we could have performed better in the league last season overall, but I was happy. We had improved the league position and the players were learning a different style of football than they were perhaps used to from the previous season. In the season before I took over the club finished 7th and in my first year we finished 4th, so we were heading in the right direction.”
McCombs first season at the helm was indeed one of marked progress. They endured a tough start when the side were on the end of a couple of heavy defeats to the eventually promoted pair of Rectory Rangers & Oxford Sunnyside. They would go on to lose just two more games all season, and by the season’s end, they had netted an incredible 110 goals in all competitions. They have carried that impressive goalscoring form into this league campaign, averaging over 3 goals per game, the highest in the division.
The club also enjoyed a lengthy run into the latter stages of the Intermediate Cup. Eventually losing out in the last 16 to NAFL 1A side Dromara Village. The Swifts claimed the scalps of a number of good sides along the way, however, including leading PIL side Portstewart & the reserves of Premier League side Carrick Rangers. McComb, however, is not resting on his laurels, with plans afoot for this season and beyond.
“We want to try and win trophies this season, and we are aiming for promotion but there’s a lot of football to be played yet. In the long term, we want to keep developing the club, to remain central to the local community and become a real community hub. Our current 10-year plan includes having a player represent Northern Ireland at some level. Our former player Ellie Woolsey, who is now at Glentoran, has been involved with the NI Under 13 Girls. We would also like to have a player from our youth system to make it across the water. On the senior side, we would like to be self-reliant on our own grass pitch with a club house.”
Formed in 1989, the club is into its 30th season. The Swifts have played throughout the Mid Ulster leagues during that time, moving into Intermediate football in 1998. A 2nd place finish in Intermediate A in 2011 was their highest placing to date, losing out to runaway winners Tandragee Rovers. However the steady growth witnessed over that period of time continues at pace, including the ever-growing youth setup under the watchful eye of Youth Development Officer, Jordan Dillon.
“The club has grown massively over the last 8-9 years. David Andrews & Steven Black started up an u17 side 9 years ago because there were so many young lads in the area keen to play for the club. That has now progressed from the club having just the two senior teams to now having 3 senior teams and 11 underage teams from Under 7 – Under 19, plus two girls teams with a third being added very soon. We have also recently added an Over 35s team made up of ex-players to keep them involved in the game and having that social aspect. They will be playing their second match ever on 29th February when they invite Mourne Masters to Kilcluney Park for an evening of entertainment, involving a table quiz when we will raffle off a brand new car, our most ambitious fundraiser ever.”