With the opening games of the Championship 2 season set to kick off this afternoon, Ballycare Comrades’ countdown to kick-off is well and truly on.
And, as the players gear up for what promises to be another gruelling campaign, Eddie Hill’s men are focused on winning promotion.
Their mission begins today with a journey to The Dub to take on Queen’s University (3pm).
While the Reds boss has been busy bringing new faces on the pitch, perhaps his best signings of recent months have come off it. In appointing Gary Bell and Stuart McClean to his backroom staff, he has brought the ‘boot room’ philosophy to Ballyclare.
Both men know every inch of Dixon Park and both know what it takes to win the League the club finds itself in. Hill will be hoping their winning mentality rubs off on his squad.
Despite the loss of established first-team regulars like Mark McClelland, Andy Simms and Scott Irvine, Hill has moved confidently in the transfer window.
Former Nortel striker Kyle Agnew is back in the fold. He has pace to burn and along with Ricky Higgins, should provide the firepower needed in attack. Another ex-Nortel player, Andrew Doyle, will have no problems making the jump up from the Amateur League and should strengthen their defensive options. So too will Darren Docherty, who impressed at right-back for with the Monkstown Avenue outfit.
The Reds have also added new faces in midfield with the acquisitions of Annagh United’s Gerard McAlea and Ross Earley who had a spell with Carrick Rangers, and Marty McAvoy from Brantwood.
Speaking to the Times earlier this week, Ballyclare keeper Paddy Flood said: “The commitment and dedication is there from all the lads as well as the coaching staff and I’m confident we can step up the plate and ensure we will be playing Championship 1 football next season.
“Promotion is the number one target and that has been made clear. We definitely have the quality and each and every one of us will do everything we can to achieve our goal and get us back to where we belong.”
Report by John Gillespie | Twitter: @Times_Sport