New Limerick District League Oscar Traynor Trophy manager John Grehan will lead the new look side as they open the campaign against Clare League in Jackman Park on Thursday night.
Grehan spent much of last year as Tommy Barrett’s right hand man at Limerick FC and says that the appointment to the Oscar Traynor hot seat came ‘out of the blue.’
“It came out of the blue really. I was doing some football work for Geraldines and Turlough McNamara, a league committee member, asked me would I be interested. There was no hesitation as it is something that I have always wanted to do.
I’m from Dublin so maybe before my aspirations were towards the Leinster Junior League but I’m living in the west of Ireland now and when the opportunity presented itself I just grabbed it.”
Grehan has selected a very experienced squad which is full of ex-Airtricity League players, many of which Grehan briefly worked with at Limerick FC. Grehan cannot see a reason for the squad not achieving their goals this season and he is aiming for the final.
“They are all quality players. The ex-League of Ireland players re-graded and they are playing for some of the junior clubs. The likes of Kieran Hanlon, Connor Ellis and Clyde O’Connell have all re-graded and I will be using some of the lads that I would have worked with previously. “
Last season, Janesboro Football club represented the league and won the Oscar Traynor Trophy for the first time in 24 years. Grehan realises how tough an act it will be to follow but is also happy that it has returned to a representative team.
“It will be a tremendously hard act to follow. What the lads did was phenomenal and all credit to the management team and the players. That’s the beauty of football you have to follow on from success and see can you get some success in a different fashion.
The fact that it has gone back to a true representative team is brilliant. It’s needed in the city. I’m glad it’s back to a cross section of the clubs. The standard is good and we have a great squad.”
Grehan was a keen watcher of Sunday’s Munster Junior Cup clash between Fairview Rangers and Ballynanty Rovers, a game which saw ten of his squad involved. Grehan was delighted with the standard but admits he was praying for no new injuries.
“You are there in an impartial capacity and you are praying. It is a high pressure game and there is a lot at stake. Two of the panellists were tackling each other and I was praying that they would come out alright. The game was very entertaining.
There was a great crowd and the standard was excellent. They are strong lads and after the text I sent this morning, there doesn’t seem to be too many injuries.”
Grehan, like many managers before him, is unaware of the strengths of the opposition teams. He admits he is only still getting to know his own squad but is a firm believer that they are good enough to concentrate on their own game.
“If you had asked me three weeks ago what I would have known about my team, I would have had to say not a great deal. My philosophy in football has always been concentrate on yourself.
You get you part right. Ideally you would always like to know about the opposition and do your homework but you cant all the time. You set your game plan and your style of play and we have already done some of that with the players.
The biggest thing to remember with our group is the quality, these lads are seasoned campaigners and have been around the top of the league for many years. I’m confident in our group and I don’t really need to worry about other groups.”
It is notoriously difficult to integrate a new squad in such a short space of time but many of the Limerick District League players have already played together at club or Oscar Traynor level and the former Limerick FC assistant manager believes it will stand them in good stead.
“I think the experience will come to the front and while they play for different clubs, I think in total we have picked from six clubs overall. There are pockets of players from each club that will know eachother. The lads know each other from over the years.
At the end of the day, it wasn’t a random selection and I did receive help. Paul O’Donnell was very helpful in giving me insights into certain players. Tommy Barrett gave me some input.
I would have been to see a lot of games so I would have knowledge of some of the players. When you are setting the squad, you are looking at two things; the length of the tournament and maximising the squad. Im looking further than the firs three games and I am looking towards the final.”
In recent years, the attitude of players and clubs has been negative towards the Oscar Traynor competition. Grehan is hoping to instill pride into representing Limerick District League again.
“There has been a great attitude towards it this year and the interaction we have had shows the players are buying into it this year. We won’t see until Thursday when we get out on the pitch and how we do, but I am confident.”