With the extensive pre-season programme now done and dusted, Ballyclare Comrades manager Clifford Adams is in buoyant mood as he prepares for the big kick-off.
“During the past fortnight we played four Premiership teams and were not overwhelmed by any of them, so we are looking forward to the new season with a great deal of confidence,” he stated.
“Having brought in fourteen new players we have a much stronger panel than last season, and my aim is to win the title and regain senior status for the Comrades as soon as possible,” he enthused.
Last season under Stephen Hughes, the Reds were title contenders until four successive defeats in February resulted in a third place finish, and Adams is determined that there will be no repeat performance.
During the past week he added the finishing touches to his squad with the signing of two more players – Matthew Parker and David Woods. Parker is a left back who has gained experience with Portadown and Warrenpoint, while Woods is a striker who has been with Ballymena United, but it will be several weeks before he regains fitness following a spell out injured.
Asked about the teams most likely to be front runners in the Championship campaign Adams offered, “Portadown are likely to be the bookies’ favourites to bounce straight back to the Premiership, but Institute will be there or thereabouts again after just being shaded out by Carrick Rangers last time round, and then there are newcomers Limavady and Newry City, so there will be no easy fixtures. “However a lot of teams in this division rely on journeymen, while I have been concentrating on younger players, and hopefully the young legs will do the business,” he added.
Meanwhile, the departure of Kevin Lynch and Jonny McClurg took the total leaving Dixon Park to twelve, making it one of the most dramatic summers in terms of player turnover in the club’s history.
Comrades have been paired with Newington YC in the second round of the Bet McLean League Cup, and although the city side came first out of the hat, the tie is likely to be played at Dixon Park on Tuesday, August 29.