Stephen Welsh has been appointed head coach at Enniskillen Rugby Club, and he is hoping to inspire the team to a return to the form that saw them compete in the top half of Kukri Qualifying One.
The Skins went into the last campaign with high hopes, but the season soon became a battle against relegation as they slid towards the foot of the table. Stephen is keen to avoid a repeat this season, and has set his sights high. 
“We are not hoping just to survive because I think that is the wrong mentality,” he said. “We finished top four the previous year and it’s not going to be easy but if we train and put our minds to it, we can do that again. We will start with our small goals. We don’t want to get beaten at home. We want to make Mullaghmeen a fortress again and get back to a situation where teams don’t want to come anywhere near Mullaghmeen.”
“Last season was disappointing given the previous two or three seasons that included a couple of finals, promotion and All Ireland cup qualification. Last year there was something missing. Maybe it the mentality and a bit of a hangover from the previous years. We were unbeaten at home for nearly two full calendar years and it was maybe the fallout from that. I’ve been sitting over the summer thinking about it and trying to come up with what happened last year but it’s hard to put your finger on it. We have drawn a line under it now and we will focus on next year.”
Stephen’s move to the position of head coach is the pinnacle of a long rugby career spent at the club. He has been a regular at Mullaghmeen for all but a couple of years during his playing career, and over the past few years was assistant to Head Coach Willie Gibson. When Gibson decided to step down Stephen was delighted to be given the opportunity to taking the helm. 
“It’s a bit surreal but it’s great,” he said. “It’s strange because I have been about the club all my life and this year Richard Grey offered me the job. Ten years ago we were just two boys sitting at the bar and you would never have thought he would be offering me the head coach job! I’m ready to deal with it and I feel confident and capable that I can deal with it. I am ready for it at this stage. Willie helped me on a good bit last year, and I have coached under age at Portora. I’m happy to get it.”
Stephen believes that he has a squad this season that has the skills and attitude to allow them to make positives strides forward, with several former players returning to the ranks for the upcoming campaign. “We have a few good senior players back in,” he revealed. “Nicky Finlay is back from Saudi Arabia, Gavin Warrington was over in Canada and he is back, and Gareth Beatty is back from injury which is like having a new player. Those players have good experience and are leaders. They have all been there. Kaine Holden is away to Omagh and he will be a loss but we will move on. He would have been our forward of the year last year, but there are some boys here that can step up. We have Matthew Balmer away to England to work and we have released Robert Balacoune who is signing for Ballymena, although he will probably be spending a lot of his time playing rugby sevens. Down this neck of the woods it’s more about player’s retention rather than getting players in, but there is a good squad of boys there.”
Alongside his hopes for a strong showing in the league, Stephen is also desperate for the squad to get their hands on what he believes is a long overdue trophy. “The Towns Cup is massive with me,” he admitted. “I have been in three finals that we have lost in, and I know for certain other boys that is the big one that they want, so we will be putting on a big push for that. With the players coming back and the squad we have, we have a lot of players mad to win things this year. None of us in the first fifteen in Enniskillen have won anything and it’s starting to eat a few boys up. There is a couple of boys nearing the end of their careers and they would want to go out with something.”