AMATEUR LEAGUE: Mathers and McFerran relishing Barn United challenge

Paul Mathers in action for Barn United.
Paul Mathers in action for Barn United.

Paul Mathers and Johnny McFerran are looking forward to the challenge after their appointment as the new management team at Barn United.

The pair were announced as the new men in charge at Haslett Park on Saturday evening.

Last season was one to forget for Barn as they slipped through the relegation trap door into 1b, having finished bottom of 1a.

It wasn’t entirely unsurprising, given they were let out of jail in two of the previous three campaigns; saved the previous term thanks to the three points claimed back off Crumlin United and two years earlier, by Newington YC’s elevation into Championship 2.

Newtownabbey man Johnny had been managing Barn Seconds for the last three seasons, coming close to securing promotion last term, where they finished third in Division 3b.

“It’s been a struggle at the club for the last few years,” he admitted. 2Maybe Barn needed to go down a level to start rebuilding again. At least I’ve had three years experience of managing; I know the club and the players, and I think they wanted to keep the appointment in-house.”

Barn had appointed Tommy Kincaid earlier in 2016 but but by April former boss Jim Pherson had been handed the reins for the final five games.

McFerran will be joined by Paul Mathers, first-team captain in seven of the eight years he has been at the Barn.

Paul was a member of the Islandmagee side who completed the 1a and Clarence Cup double back in 2008, and was also part of the Pherson’s successful Kilroot Rec squad.

Paul suggests: “My playing experience could prove useful, although I’ve never been in Division 1b. It’s going to be tough, as Wellington found out last season, with a lot of their players coming from the Premier Division with Islandmagee.

“Morale is low at the club at the moment; we’re going to have to pick the players up. We know we’re good enough, we’re getting good backing from the committee and the players we want to stay have already committed; they’re all determined to get the club back where they should be. It’s up to us now to add some fresh faces to strengthen the squad and bring some of the younger players through.

“We’re going to give it 100 per cent. We’re in it for the long haul, and will be there for as long as the club want us. Hopefully my years of playing, and Jonny’s management experience, plus our knowledge of the club will get us back on the right road. There will be a few derbies in 1b next season, with Wellington, UUJ, Rathfern and Mossley. It could be interesting!”

Also coming on board as new second-team manager is Peter Owens, who tasted success a few years ago with Krag Albion. Peter will be assisted by Neil Armstrong.