Ballinamallard captain James McKenna acknowledges that it is important for the Mallards to make a bright start to the new season and get wins on the board early on.

The Ferney Park side had to wait until the seventh game of last season to chalk up their first win and McKenna is targeting a better opening to the campaign this time around.

“It goes without saying that if you start well you can carry a lot of momentum into the rest of the season. The start is crucial, we were always on the back foot last season after starting so poorly so if we can pick up a couple of wins in August it will put us on a steady footing,” he said.

McKenna has been a big part of the Mallards recent history having been part of the side that won promotion to the Premiership.

And now that pre-season is out of the way and he is excited about the start of another season in the top flight.

“Personally I hate pre-season. Apart from the running and everything else, it is not competitive football. You are training and have games but you are just itching for the first real game to get started, that’s where the enjoyment is. You get to this stage, a couple of days away from the first game, and you just want to get going. There is always a great excitement ahead of the first game and you want to see how things develop with the new players and get a proper idea of what you can do this season,” commented McKenna.

The player had considered retiring last year but an injury last February saw him unable to finish the season and he was reluctant to leave on that note.

“The injury cut my season short in February and that’s not the way I wanted to finish up playing. I wanted to go back and try and finish with a really strong season. Also, I believe that Gavin is building something good at the club and I don’t want to miss out on it so I decided to go back for another season,” he said.

Indeed, the skipper is impressed with the squad that Dykes is putting together as the manager moves into his second season at the helm.

“It is certainly a team in Gavin’s own image and it is a team capable of playing football. The league itself isn’t all about playing football so it will be a balancing act but we have a lot of quick, young exciting players. I think some of the supporters will be excited when they see some of the new lads,” he stated.

In terms of targets, mid table safety is the obvious one for McKenna but he also has his sights on another history making achievement for the club.

“Ideally, we would love to pushing sixth, seventh in the league but we know that won’t be easy.

“Then it would be brilliant to bring this club to a cup final. We have made a lot of milestones over the last five or six years and that has to be the next one, to play in a senior cup final,” he added.