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Accies begin search after Marshall’s shock exit

OMAGH Accies are on the look-out for a new first team coach following Phil Marshall’s shock decision to step down on Monday night, signalling an end of an era at the Thomas Mellon Playing Fields.

The highly regarded coach had been instrumental in the club’s success over the past 10 years, but after a decade at the helm of the first XV and as director of rugby, he has decided to call it a day.

When Marshall took over, the Accies were languishing in Qualifying Two, but his arrival brought about an upsurge in fortunes as he not only introduced an eye-catching, expansive style of play, but also developed a young side full of exciting players capable of driving them to a higher level.

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Having also worked hard behind the scenes, developing structures that would help the club progress on and off the pitch, Marshall was fundamental to what was achieved over the next decade.

The first XV not only achieved promotion to Qualifying One during his spell, but during that season they also reached the Junior Cup final at Kingspan, losing narrowly to an Instonians outfit who had just stepped down from senior level.

But it was the All-Ireland Leagues where the Accies wanted to return, having enjoyed a spell there in the 1990s and it was Marshall, who returned them to the promised land of senior rugby in 2016 when his scintillating young side, who proved to have the mettle for a fight, claimed the Qualifying One title before earning their place in 2C following a stunning play-off win at Boyne.

Their first season back in the All-Ireland Leagues proved they could most certainly mix it at that level as they narrowly missed out on promotion at the first attempt, falling to an agonising defeat at Belfast Harlequins in a promotion/relegation play-off clash.

The second season saw them again fall just short of achieving their goal of a place in 2B, this time missing out on the play-offs following a late season dip in form, which carried over into the 2019/20 campaign, which was cut short due to the Covid-19 Pandemic.

Although they suffered a few too many disappointing narrow defeats in the season just ended, they remained in the hunt for a promotion place throughout.

While the Accies are now on the search for Marshall’s successor, the club wishes to thank him for all his hard work and the subsequent success he helped them achieve over the past 10 years and that they retain some hope that he might still remain involved in some capacity next term.

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