JOHN SWEENEY has set his sights on winning promotion from the Central First Division in his first full season with St Roch's.

The former Clyde midfielder is confident the eyebrow raising decision he made last January in opting to leave Pollok in order to drop down two Divisions and join his local Junior side is on the verge of gaining credibility.

He and his team-mates performed well to finish fifth top of the standings last time out but Sweeney reckons he is justified in aiming higher on the back of strength in depth being added to the Garngad outfit’s playing following team boss Andy Cameron’s close-season dealings on the transfer market.

And a further boost has come from the Candy Rock’s form in pre-season friendly outings to date … their latest Saturday’s 5-3 victory over Lochee Harp up on Tayside through goals from Declan Docherty, Sweeney (2), T.J. McKenzie and Baboucarr Musa.

The 28-year-old said: “Last season was a momentous one for St Roch's considering we comfortably consolidated our place in the First Division but there are plenty of reasons to think we can do better.

“Andy Cameron resigned the vast majority of last year’s team but he also brought in a number of top-notch players, not least of all the ex-Rob Roy centre-back Jonathan Carter who is a great talker and defensive organiser with the added quality of bags of experience at Junior level.

“He’s exactly what we were missing last season and the gaffer has recognised the need to make further strengthening moves by recruiting a real midfield livewire in Kieron Daw from Petershill as well as the former Queen's Park goalkeeper Connor Boyle whose providing healthy competition for the gloves will bring out the best in Starky (regular No.1 John Paul Stark) who was our Player of the Year last season..

“And then of course there is Brian McQueen, recently signed up on his release from Clyde, where he and I played together, yet still an outstanding defender who is currently on the road back from cruciate ligament surgery and will not be ready for selection until September time.

“The wait will be worth it as he’ll prove a real asset when fully fit.”

The quartet of newcomers reside within a few miles of the James McGrory Stadium and their signings act to underline Cameron’s commitment to pursue the best of local talent in seeking to have St Roch's recognised as a community club.

Sweeney revealed: “Club officials and most of all the gaffer are putting in a lot of hard work behind the scenes to help develop an affinity to St Roch's Juniors from people living in and around the area.

“One of his ideas was to set up a free coaching session for 50 plus kids throughout the summer months that has turned out to be a huge success and all it would take is for y the club to benefit from getting a few more punters through the gates at home games to make it all worthwhile.”

A better than average attendance is expected this coming Saturday when St Roch's entertain Sweeney’s former club Pollok in a clash played out against the backdrop of a bouncy castle, barbecue and live D.J.

The experienced ace said: “The club are making a family day of the official opening of our Players Lounge and it’s hoped Pollok large supporting base will turn out in numbers.

“ The game provides me with 90 minutes to show Tony McInally what he’s been missing and I’m really looking forward to meeting up with my old team-mates who are arguably among the best players in Junior football.

“Jordan Longmuir in goal is up there with Andy Leishman (Auchinleck Talbot) vying for any safest hands in the game award while Paul Gallagher is simply an immaculate defender who reads the game superbly and never appears to get flustered.

“David Winters is a special talent further upfield as is the very skilful Del Hepburn but for me the best Pollok player of them all is Colin Williamson, a creative midfielder capable of controlling how a game unfolds and I’m going to enjoy pitting my wits against him.”

Meanwhile in games played last night, Clydesdale Cup holders Carluke Rovers exited this season’s competition following a 4-1 penalty kicks shoot-out defeat at the hands of Lanark United at Moor Park.

Lewis McDougall’s second half opener for Rovers was cancelled out by a Sean Gallagher counter for the home side that culminated in a 1-1 regulation time scoreline and set the scene for spot-kicks.

And a first half scoring blitz paved the way for Pollok to run out resounding 5-0 winners in the first of their pre-season friendly encounters at home to Rossvale .

Top marksman David Winters opened the floodgates just two minutes in and further scores from Chris Walker, Michael Daly and Carlo Monti (pen) had the Southsiders 4-0 to the good before the half-hour mark.

Rossvale regrouped to put up stiffer resistance after the break and the only other score came from Mark Sideserf.


Friendly: Pollok 5 Rossvale 0.

Clydesdale Cup semi-final: Lanark Utd 1 Carluke Rovers 1 (Lanark Utd win 4-1 on pens).


Camelon v Rob Roy.

Clydesdale Cup semi-final: Forth Wanderers v Lesmahagow.