KEIGHLEY Albion head coach Josh Ireland is blown away by the club’s progress over the last year or two, even if their first shot at silverware on their 75th anniversary fell flat over the weekend.

They were blown away 40-4 by Newsome Panthers in the Yorkshire Men’s League Cup final at Featherstone Rovers’ Post Office Road on Saturday evening.

There was a sense of disappointment from Ireland, but realism too, as he reflected: “It’s absolutely something to be proud of, just getting there in the first place, as we’re a Division One side.

“The cup is played between those in our league and the Premier Division (Newsome are second in the top tier) so to find ourselves in that position, given where we’ve come from over the last couple of years, was fantastic.

“But I’ve been going through the stats from the game, and our completion was only at 50 per cent and you couldn’t run a bath at that rate, let alone a game.

“Newsome were fast and physical and we just couldn’t handle them or get a foothold in the game.”

It was a great occasion though and the second time in nine months that Albion had played at Fev, with another chance on the horizon soon.

Ireland said: “It’s massively important for community teams to get the chance to play at grounds like that.

“We’ll be back there if we win the league, which we’re currently top of, for a play-off final.

“It was only last year we won a play-off at Featherstone to become Division Three champions and now we could win Division One.

“We know where we’re at at this halfway stage too, having played all the teams, and we’ve got those bigger and better teams to come at home.

“We need to look forward now and not dwell on losing that final.”

The promise shown by the first team is reflected throughout the club, with Ireland saying: “We’re absolutely heading in the right direction.

“Our new academy side can win the league if results go their way and given they’ve only got one away game left, it’s a massive opportunity for them.

Keighley News: Keighley Albion's academy side (left) have a real chance of winning their league.Keighley Albion's academy side (left) have a real chance of winning their league. (Image: JT Sports Media.)

“It would be great if they could join us in a final at Featherstone at the end of the year.”

Their progress means a lot to Ireland, who said: “I’ve come from coaching juniors at Albion, which I’d done since 2010.

“I’ve only been doing the open age for 18 months, so I’m still bedding into that.

“It’s all new to me, dealing with grown men, not parents, but I’m loving it.”

Another thing Ireland is loving is the chance to use some players from Keighley RUFC, as he did in Saturday’s final.

Keighley News: Kristian Bealey-Kay scoring a try for Keighley RUFC.Kristian Bealey-Kay scoring a try for Keighley RUFC. (Image: Mark Ellis Photography.)

He said: “It’s massive to have them, as it gives them the opportunity to play in the summer and winter, with that option taken away when both codes took place in the winter.

“Some may want to play rugby all year and this gives them the opportunity, especially when they have a few free weekends over the summer.”