Club Name: Windmill Stars
League: Mid Ulster Intermediate A
Ground: Willie Davis Park, Newry
Colours: Orange and Navy
Manager: Paul McCrink
Captain: Chris McMahon
Club Honours: Every trophy in Junior football. Intermediate B title.
In this weeks Intermediate Profile we travel to the Mid Ulster league, and to Newry where we caught up with Windmill Stars Chairman, John O’Hanlon.
Windmill Stars have begun the season in fine form, winning four out of their five league games while also progressing in the Premier, Marshall & Bob Radcliffe cups.
The club gained promotion to Intermediate A after winning the Intermediate B title in 2015/16, and have been in the mix at the top end of the table ever since.
That 2015/16 season was their first as an Intermediate club following a hugely successful spell in junior football. It was also the first season they fielded a reserve side which was largely made up of the oldest players from within their extensive youth section, and that side has since secured successive promotions to now compete in Reserve Division One.
Last season they secured a fourth-placed finish, and as O’Hanlon explains, the club are looking to keep building on their season on season progress.
“Last season we finished in the top four in the league, despite having to play our first 10 games away from home. We were always playing catch up though, but we were happy to get in the top four.”
Following a season-opening 4-1 win at home to reigning champions Hanover, the club have only dropped points in a 2-0 defeat to early pacesetters Valley Rangers, and recently inflicted the first defeat of the season on newly-promoted Rectory Rangers.
In a pulsating game, the visitors raced into a 3 nil lead shortly after half time, but the Star men pulled a goal back quickly and put the cap on a fine second half thanks to a late goal from former Newry City man Timmy Grant.
This weekend Paul McCrinks men romped to an 8-2 win away at Warrenpoint u-20’s in the Bob Radcliffe Cup. Braces on the day from Cathal McKenna, Chris McMahon & Neil Barr were added to by Gareth White and another strike from Grant. In the upcoming quarter-final, the club have been drawn away to divisional rivals Valley Rangers, where they will be looking for a degree of revenge for that recent league defeat.
O’Hanlon, though, is keen to keep his feet on the ground, while also acknowledging that there is no limit to the long term ambitions of the club. “A lot of the teams in the league have strengthened over the summer months, but we certainly hope to be in the mix for trophies.
In the long term, the club has aspirations to secure a ground of our own, and we would love to push on and get to the Irish league.”
The youth set up at Windmill Stars has certainly been a success over the years and continues to go from strength to strength. The club has overseen huge growth in recent years in terms of numbers of children taking part in their development programmes. With junior sides competing in various leagues across the country including the Northern Ireland National League, Mid-Ulster and Lisburn Leagues.
“We have a good mixture of experience and youth at the club and have great structures in place”. O’Hanlon continued. “We have a great youth academy and at senior level, both our first team and reserves are doing well. In 2013 the club was awarded the McDonalds Club accreditation which recognizes best practice in club and youth development, and the Club now has over 40 qualified coaches, 250 youth team players across 18 youth teams and 36 senior players and these numbers continue to grow each week. The future looks good.”