Stevie Welsh has said that he is ‘bitterly disappointed’ that he will not be Head Coach of Enniskillen 1st XV next season after the club took the decision to make a change in the position.

Welsh was keen to return for one more year having led Skins to the Ulster Junior and All Ireland Junior finals this season while his five years at the helm have brought great success to the club in the shape of the Towns’ Cup in 2019 and the Ulster Junior Cup in 2020.

“I’m really disappointed with the decision. I set out five years ago, and taking Covid out of it, I had four years done of a five year plan and I really wanted one more year.

“I felt last year we were making steps in the right direction. The league was very inconsistent but we regrouped around Christmas and went on a great run. You could see the players were getting the system and getting used to that.

“There will also be four or five boys back into the mix next year which weren’t here this year and they will really add to that team.

“I’m bitterly disappointed that I won’t be able to coach next year, no coach or player wants to finish on a loss, especially the loss we had but this is sport and this stuff happens,” he said.

Good foundation

He feels though that he is leaving behind a good foundation for whoever comes in next at Mullaghmeen.

“Whoever is going to take it, they are going to get a good squad. They will have a very skilful group of players who are very committed and should be able to add their own style to it.

“I got a good squad from Willie Gibson when I took over and I piggy backed on his foundations and hopefully the squad is better now than whenever I took over. Hopefully it will be in good shape next year for the club,” he said.

And he believes that the team will be stronger next year for those two final defeats that they suffered in this season.

“I’m not one who is happy just to reach finals, you want to win them, but fair play to Clogher they were just better than us that day in the All Ireland Junior final so it was a wee bit easier to take, even if it is never easy to take when you lose to Clogher.

“The Ballyclare game, we probably fluffed that and I have no doubt the boys will learn from that and I can imagine what they will be like next year with those experiences behind them and being a year older,” he added.

Welsh says he thoroughly enjoyed his time in charge of his home club.

“It came with plenty of challenges and one of the years was a write off with Covid but no, I definitely enjoyed it. We won a couple of trophies and it was good to get two titles in the bag.

“It was basically two squads because pre-Covid and post-Covid the squads were completely different but you could see the way the team was changing and things were going well,” he commented.

So, what were the abiding memories for Welsh?

“You have to say the Towns’ Cup and the Junior Cup. We were very lucky to get the Towns’ Cup in my first year.

“I have to say a massive thanks to Richie Grey for first of all giving me the job and then sticking by me when we didn’t get wins in the first four or five games but we trusted the process and knew it was going to come and results did come.

“We went on a run of something like 15 wins and that period was brilliant. Obviously, the Junior Cup was great too with the spirit shown.

“But, seeing some of the boys faces after the games, that’s the thing you remember most,” he concluded.