THE secret behind Irvine Meadow’s impressive promotion push won’t be found on the pitch, but on the beach, says manager Brian McGinty.

Meadow capped a remarkable upturn in form by securing their return to the top flight last week thanks to a 4-1 play-off win over Arthurlie.

The promotion party came after an impressive run of 15 victories from their last 21 fixtures following former St Mirren attacker McGinty’s appointment last October.

While the end results were there for all to see on the pitch, it was some gruelling work on the sand which McGinty feels could have held the key to their Premiership push.

“We had a tricky start,” reflected McGinty. “The Scottish Cup game with Dyce getting repeatedly called off was a blessing in disguise, though, as it allowed us to really work the players.

“A club like Irvine Meadow has no divine right to be in the top league but it has to aspire to that as, in terms of the junior game, it’s one of the biggest clubs there is so we just had to earn the right to get back there.

“To do that, we had to be fitter and the players all bought into it over that period at Christmas.

“One day we were down the beach, the rain was going sideways with gale-force winds but they managed a full session, we just went through it because we knew it would be worth it and in the second half of the season we had an incredible effort from the players.”

The Meadow squad will likely face another testing stint on Irvine Beach when pre-season returns in just over three weeks.

Although having little time to rest up could lead to weary legs, McGinty hopes the feel-good factor currently circulating Meadow Park will see a squad which will remain largely intact buzzing upon their return.

He said: “We aren’t going to get much of a break, but we’ve got to use that as a positive rather than a negative.

“The boys should come bouncing in, we should still have that feel-good factor.

“We’ve secured 15 of the squad that we had last year so there’s a really good core there. We’re not going to change too much, anybody we do bring in must improve on what we’ve got.

Meadow are back amongst the Junior game’s big hitters next season in the West Premiership, where Ayrshire derbies against last season’s top two, Beith and Auchinleck Talbot, lie in wait.

Those matches may capture supporters' imaginations, but McGinty’s focus is just on securing his side’s top-tier status going forward.

He added: “To be realistic, in our first season back we just have to consolidate our place in the league.

“That’s our first target: to get safe as quickly as possible. It’s important we hit the ground running and then if we are doing well we’ll set new targets.”

Meadow will make their Premiership return without one of their stars of last campaign after forward Eddie McTernan suffered a torn meniscus.

McGinty admits the loss of his top goalscorer was a bitter pill to swallow but says it’s now time for someone else to step up and fill the void left by McTernan’s absence.

He said: “Eddie has a bad knee injury, we’re waiting on the reports but it’s looking like he’ll be out for a number of months which is a huge blow.

“Firstly, I’m gutted for Eddie, he played a huge role in getting us up and scored a lot of goals after he went up front.

“But we’ll support him through it, he’s re-signed and we’ll work through a rehab program make sure he comes back fitter and stronger from it.

“In the meantime, we just need guys to come in and fill Eddie shoes.”