NEW Omagh Accies skipper, Adam Longwell, believes ‘now’s the time’ for his side to take the next step and earn promotion to division 2B of the Energia All-Ireland Leagues.
Before their AIL opener at newly promoted Clonmel on October 5, the Accies face a couple of matches closer to home in the second division of the SONI Ulster Premiership, starting today at the Thomas Mellon Playing Fields.
Having lost to their Stevenson Park counterparts last season, the Accies are keen to establish themselves as the major force in senior rugby in Tyrone and Longwell believes his side are in good shape to achieve that.
“Playing against Dungannon, there’s only one thing the players want and that’s to win and we’ll definitely be going out with as strong a team as we possibly can,” he stated. “It will be a good game, but these games are vital for us picking up before the All-Ireland League in a few weeks time. We’re looking forward to it.
“It’s come around very quickly but I think we’ll be ready for it. There have been plenty down at training, with 40-plus at each session, so we’ve plenty of players to pick from and fitness wise we don’t really have any issues.”
Longwell, a 24-year-old flanker, has taken over the role as captain from Stewart McCain and while honoured at having been given the position, he’s adamant it won’t change his style of play as he attempts to drive his club to promotion.
“It’s great to be captain because it’s a massive club and obviously being local, from Omagh, it’s a big honour but it’s one I’m looking forward to,” he beamed.
“It’s not going to change the way I play and fortunately I’ve got lots of senior players around me to help, so it’s positive.
“From the outset we’re looking to win the league, that’s the only thing on my mind.
“We’re now used to the All-Ireland League. We’ve had two seasons up and we went very close the first season. With the squad we have, there’s no reason we can’t push on. Now’s the time.
“Last year was a big learning curve because teams knew what way we played and were able to come back at us, whereas the season before we were the surprise package, which is why we did so well.
“We’ve definitely learned and we have more tricks up our sleeves to come back at teams.
“We feel we’re well prepared and that we’ve had a good pre-season to get ready.”
Kick-off at the Thomas Mellon Playing Fields is 2.30pm today.