NEW Rathfriland Rangers manager Ronnie Haughey wants his team to finish the season with a flourish.
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The vastly experienced, highly-respected player, manager and coach has taken over from Ally Wilson at Iveagh Park.

Rathfriland say that "due to other commitments" Wilson has stepped down from his role of first team manager but "will retain a coaching and scouting role with the club and will be involved when he can."

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Haughey, a former Rathfriland manager, has been getting to know the players over the last few weeks. So, he's ready for the run-in to an exciting and historic first Premier Intermediate League campaign for the ambitious local outfit.

New Rathfriland Rangers manager Ronnie Haughey (right) with the club chairman, Adrian Megaw.New Rathfriland Rangers manager Ronnie Haughey (right) with the club chairman, Adrian Megaw.
New Rathfriland Rangers manager Ronnie Haughey (right) with the club chairman, Adrian Megaw.

Rangers are sitting fourth in the table, a point off second spot, and are well placed to push for a promotion play-off. If they do go up, that would be a first step towards the club's ultimate goal – playing in the Sports Direct Premiership, with Glentoran, Linfield, Larne et al. They feel they're capable of following in the footsteps of clubs like Loughgall in achieving senior status.

'New boy' Haughey is very much buying into the plans – he's half a century into his footballing journey, but is still as dedicated and enthusiastic as ever.

His latest tenure got off to a winning start with a comfortable 3-0 victory against basement club PSNI on Saturday. While he's very much aiming for the top, Haughey is too long in the tooth to be making big promises in week one!

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He told Chronicle Sport: "I've been up a few weeks, but that's the first official result and it was good to get a win.

"The next run of fixtures, it's game by game. We've Warrenpoint at home on Friday night (tomorrow, 7.45pm), which is a big one. If we can just keep ticking them off and see where it takes us."

He's also paying tribute to Ally Wilson – as well as club officials, and fans.

"Obviously, the foundations are well in place. Ally has done a superb job in terms of not only getting us up from the Amateur League, but on the back of two league titles and an Intermediate Cup – and a Bob Radcliffe Cup already this season – and he will still play a massive part in the success of the club going forward...

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"The club off the field have worked very, very hard to upgrade the facilities at Iveagh Park. It's a credit to all involved, it really is."

Haughey continued: "I have been here before, back when 'young James Costello' was just coming through before going on to a successful Irish League career.

"It was always a very well run club, a good club, but obviously it's come on leaps and bounds in terms of the facilities and they deserve to be where they are at the moment.

"There's no point having those facilities if you don't push on and the club has that mentality, both on and off the park."

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The former Banbridge Town player, manager and coach is still spending time 'on the park' himself…

He's one of the stars of the Northern Ireland veterans’ international team and has a couple of big tournaments coming up in the next few weeks. Watch this space.

Hard to believe that it's 49 years ago this month since he made his debut for (then) home town club Glenavon, just shy of his 18th birthday!

After that there was a long and distinguished career with the Town, as well as a stint as a coach with Newry, when ex-Manchester United and NI legend Mal Donaghy was in charge.

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After moving on from Crystal Park last summer, Haughey started this season in the stand at Mourneview Park, when he was handed a season ticket by his Glenavon-mad son!

He enjoyed it, but admits: "It's a wee bit frustrating to be involved in management and coaching for a long, long time and then you have to watch a game as a fan/supporter; a different experience."

Now the man who's also spent a lifetime in the media industry is back in business.

He moved to live in Banbridge from Lurgan some time ago thanks to his "good lady" local girl.

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The rest is history. Now a new chapter in a remarkable sporting odyssey is about to be written.


Rathfriland Rangers hosted the PSNI in another Premier Intermediate League fixture at Iveagh Park on Saturday, running out 3-0 winners to stay in the hunt for promotion.

Rathfriland took the lead as early as the first minute when Nigel Prentice showed great approach play and the neatest of finishes to make it 1-0.

The home side made it 2-0 in the 38th minute when Prentice's cross was headed in for an own goal.

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In the second period Rathfriland continued to dominate with numerous attacks and Ruairi Fitzpatrick twice going close.

In the 53rd minute, leading goalscorer Matty Holloway got Rathfriland's third goal of the game when he poked home from 15 yards.

Rathfriland could afford to have a penalty saved and the visitors received four yellow cards in the last 20 minutes as they struggled to contain a well organised Rathfriland side.

Overall, a very professional and disciplined performance against the bottom placed side in the league but, most importantly, another three points were secured in Rathfriland’s push for a minimum of a PIL play-off place.

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Rangers host Warrenpoint under the floodlights at Iveagh Park tomorrow night (Friday).

Rathfriland have already defeated the Milltown outfit twice this season, both in the quarter-final of the Bob Radcliffe Cup while also winning there in the league at the turn of the year and will be looking to make it three in a row.

Another big crowd expected for this one – kick off 7.45pm.

​A big Rathfriland FC thank you goes to matchday sponsors Hanna Hillen Financial Services, Gordon Bell & Son Solicitors and Ardaragh Catering Equipment for the Rangers v PSNI game.

Thank you also to ABC Council for their support in sponsoring the recent solar panels and LED lighting at the club.


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A dominant home display saw Rathfriland leapfrog the visitors into second position after a comprehensive 7-0 victory at a chilly Ingram Park.

The home side flew out of the traps and inside eight minutes they were deservedly in front when Adam Loughlin forced home from close range.

Sam McCallister added a second on 22 minutes after a superb first touch and volley from 18 yards into the bottom corner of the net.

The second half started as the first finished with Rathfriland dominating the play and McCallister then got his second and his team's third on 65 minutes.

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Nathan Laird was introduced to the play and scored with his first touch, arriving at the back post to head home a superb Joshua Ingram cross.

The young forward soon doubled his account for the club, slotting home low past the visiting keeper from 12 yards on 75 minutes to make it five.

Jack McCartan entered the fray for Andrew Stewart and immediately impacted the game with his relentless pressing leading to the ball being turned over – and Josh Ingram sliding it across for Laird to complete an impressive hat-trick to take the scoreline to 6-0.

Ingram got the final goal of the day to complete the scoring at seven, neatly firing low past the Oxford keeper.

Next up another big task away to runaway league leaders Richhill – but the recent upturn in form from the reigning champions means anything is possible!

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