A solid pre season for Enniskillen 1st XV finished last Saturday with a 20-10 victory over Ballynahinch.

For coach, Stevie Welsh, it was another positive performance from a young side and it showed the strength in depth of the Skins squad for the upcoming season.

“We went up there and rested most of the senior boys. There only were two or three over 24 in the team and a young captain in Adam Lendrum for the day.

“It was great to go up there and get a win against a quality team and it leaves us in a good place going into the first game.

“Obviously it’s going to be a step up next week with the league which brings a bit more but no doubt our boys will step up as well.”

Belfast side Cooke travel to Mullaghmeen for the first league game of the season before the local derby against Clogher the following week.

“I don’t think we have lost to Cooke since I have taken over but they are always a quality team, a big abrasive team.

“But being a Belfast team you don’t know what way they are from one year to the next. They have more resources and money than we do and it’s a lot easier for them to sign players.

“We’ll just focus on ourselves and and don’t too much worrying about other teams.

“If the boys turn up and play and pout in an 80 minute shift I think we can beat anyone in the league.”

The Skins boss is excited about the mixture of youth and experience running through the squad and is confident the younger players will be able to make the step up to senior level this season.

“A couple of new guys coming out of Portora the year before last who we didn’t see because of Covid, like Neil Rutledge and Michael Rooney, they both have massive futures.

“I can see both of them being in the team all this year.

Eddie and Henry Keys are both superb players. Blending them in with experienced boys we have and other young fellas it is exciting.”

As well as some new faces, Welsh hopes his side can show a more expansive aspect to their game this season:

“The way our plans have been the last four or five years building with the forwards to get a platform and go from there.

“In pre season most of our tries have come in the backs so hopefully we’ll see a bit of rugby.

“We have a good skill set right across the park so hopefully we’ll play a bit of rugby.”

Skins are taking each game as they come but Welsh knows that a good start is vital if they want to have a successful league season.

“It’s great to get two homes games. You’re not going to get any easy games in this league and that is not a cliché but to get two at home is massive.

“Obviously everyone looks for the Clogher Enniskillen games in the calendar but we get as many points for beating Clogher as you do Cooke so we are taking each game as it comes.

“It’s definitely a first good block, the first four games, to get the head down gather up the points and you will be in a good place,” Welsh concluded.