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Annagh United boss Ciaran McGurgan lays out stall after play-off agony

By Colin Millar

Annagh United boss Ciaran McGurgan has vowed the club will continue to improve on and off the pitch after narrowly missing out on a remarkable promotion to the Irish Premiership.

The Mid Ulster side were edged out by Portadown 4-2 in their promotion playoff following a stunning first season back in the Championship in which they finished second.

Had they achieved promotion, Annagh would have to play at the Coleraine Showgrounds next season and the club are now working that their BMG Arena will be ready for hosting Premiership football in future years.

Read more: Newry City boss Darren Mullen says 'hard work starts now' for Premiership return

“The club has put itself on the map now – players and fans will know exactly who we are and how serious we are in what we want to do,” McGurgan explained to Match on Tuesday.

“Over the two legs of the playoffs, we believe that the best team lost and we had some game-changing decisions that went against us.

“It is now up to us as a management team not to rest on our laurels and to continue improving, so we are looking to sign new players, improve the squad and come back stronger next season.

“As a club we are working towards being ready for promotion in a year from now, to have a stadium that is ready for Premiership football.

“We have an opportunity now to regroup and sort ourselves off the pitch, because if we do earn promotion then we want it to be when we have the facilities.

“Fair play to Coleraine for offering their services but the travel that would have been involved for the supporters and the players would have been a downside.

“That it was Portadown who we were up against made it even more special for us – an established club who were a direct local rival.”

It was not just off the pitch where Annagh have pledged to improve but within their squad too as they look to build on this season’s momentum to replicate a promotion push next campaign.

“When we look at players to sign we look at their profile and background to evaluate whether they would be the right fit for us,” added boss McGurgan.

“The camaraderie between the players has been massive and that was why we had the season we had.

“If you compare the quality and quantity of our squad to others in the league, we should not have been in the position we were – but the players pulled together and achieved that.

“We will never look to hold players from stepping up to the next level and we always look at it that we are here to improve their development and help them reach their level.”

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