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Marshall underlines challenges of playing in AIL

April Sports Personality winner Phil Marshall

THERE is no greater reward for a coach than success and no one is currently basking in the fruits of his labour more than Omagh Accies boss Phil Marshall.

And with good reason. After half a dozen seasons in charge during which he has laid solid foundations at Coneywarren and year on year made steady and significant progress the head honcho at the Thomas Mellon Playing Fields has led the Accies back to the Promised Land of the All Ireland League.

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Marshall will be the first to admit any amount of individuals, players in particular, have put their shoulder to the wheel in returning the Accies to the All Ireland ranks 20 years after their one and only venture onto the national stage, however, few will dispute Marshall was the driving force, the architect and the infectious personality who steered the ship in the right direction.

The coach had the vision, produced the masterplan and given his 1st XV players executed it to perfection in the season just finished makes Phil the outstanding candidate to be named the Ulster Herald Sports Personality for the month of April.

After receiving his award this week, Marshall revealed his team had reached the All Ireland League ahead of schedule.

“At the start of the season I said to everyone at the club that realistically we were going to push for AIL rugby within three years,” said the coach.

“I set out a top four finish as the bare minimum, which would have secured us a place in the All Ireland Junior Cup.

“We wanted to compete in that next season, so top four possibly top three and a good cup run was the aim. I thought that was achieveable, realistic.

“I saw qualifying for the All Ireland Junior Cup as a stepping stone in developing us for another season and giving us an idea what was required to push on.

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“But just the way the season panned out, the fitness and desire of the players took us beyond that.”

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