Weather puts paid to local derby clash

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The eagerly-awaited Ballyclare derby between Grange Rangers and Ballyclare Comrades Reserves was washed out on Saturday, owing to Mallusk Playing Fields being closed following heavy rainfall.

After a couple of lean seasons, Rangers under new manager Paul McAllister flirted with an Amateur League Division 2B finish last season, before ending in mid table.

With a couple of new signings on board McAllister will be planning to build on last season’s performance, and club officials had been looking forward to seeing how Rangers would fare against Stephen Hughes’ young guns.

The Comrades’ reserves have brought the Ballymena Junior League Division 1 championship to Dixon Park for the past three years, and they are gearing up for a fourth shot at the title.

“Club policy is to concentrate on nurturing young players, so I have to keep the conveyor belt loaded and that meant that several of last year’s winning team have been replaced by young lads from the Under-19s and Under-17s,” confirmed Hughes.

Ballynure Old Boys’ boss Gary Burns, had a triple disappointment when his side was left without a fixture on Saturday.

“Originally we were to play Mallusk, but they pulled out on Tuesday, but I managed to fix up a game with East Belfast,” he said.

“Unfortunately they phoned on Friday evening to call off the game and despite frantic last minute efforts, I was unable to arrange a match. In the end, it would probably have been postponed anyhow because of the rain,” he conceded.