Tony McNamee has seen some change since his last spell as senior manager of Swilly Rovers.
McNamee had a stint in charge at Swilly Park just after the turn of the millennium. In recent times, he has guided some of the Ramelton club’s underages sides before returning this year in the wake of a poor season last term, when Swilly finished bottom of the Ulster Senior League and were without a win for the campaign’s duration.
McNamee has brought the likes of his son Tony, Dylan Hegarty, James McCahill and Duncan Patterson back to the club.
“I came in to try and get as many local players as possible back,” McNamee said ahead of a winner-takes-all clash at Fanad United on Sunday.
“I’d like a few more, but I have no ill feelings towards them playing for someone else. You look at Laurence (Toland) who was playing in the FAI Senior Cup with Cockhill. You can’t fault a guy like that.
“I’m trying to steady the ship. I’m not in this for a long time.
“I just came in to try and get some of the local lads back and I’ve got a lot of them in.”
The winner of Sunday’s game at Traigh-A-Loch will advance to the semi-finals of the Donegal News USL League Cup, but McNamee is well aware of the task that awaits.
He said: “I used to say, if you went to Fanad and beat them at table tennis, you should be delighted. Fanad United, whether they have a strong team or not, will never give you anything easy. They’re built to win.
“I’m looking forward to it.
“I want to win. Everyone wants to win. It can’t be like that. I’ve gone with a small squad. I don’t like signing guys who won’t get a game. In hindsight, maybe I should have signed more, but we’re okay.
“Swilly were very nearly gone out of the Ulster Senior League. It was a pity the team went that way. You can’t take too many young boys up at the one time. Having too many kids at the one time doesn’t work. It works for Derry City and Finn Harps - but they have the best young players in the north-west.”
It has been a difficult couple of years for Swilly, but McNamee - who had success at youth level with the Lennonsiders - is hoping to lift their fortunes having returned to the dugout.
But McNamee has noticed some big changes in the game.
He said: “There’s a massive change. Everyone was mad to play football when I last managed, but now you almost have to go and lift fellas from the house. It’s very difficult to get players now. No-one wants to be on the bench now. If you have a man who’s number 12 now he’ll look to go to another club. There are too many clubs in Donegal and I think that’s a problem.
“Clubs in the Ulster Senior League are definitely at a higher standard than the junior teams are. When they meet in Cups, you’ll always get chances of a shock, but by and large the USL teams will always be on top.
“There are players playing at junior level who could play at intermediate standard, but they don’t want to. I don’t know why that is, but I think players should always play at as high a level as they possibly can.”
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