Ballyclare Comrades manager Stephen Hughes has moved quickly to bolster his strike force by snapping up Adam Irwin from Nortel and Kyle Dillon from Woodvale.
“These are two under-21s who come to Dixon Park highly recommended,” said Hughes, “and they fit the bill perfectly as I aim to stock up with young talent. Both have come through the Amateur League ranks: Adam played up front and helped Nortel finish in the top half of the Premier Division, while Kyle’s team, Woodvale, had a podium finish in the top junior grade, Division 2A.
“Both had verbally pledged their future to Ballyclare Comrades, but I didn’t want to make an announcement until I had secured their signatures,” he stated.
These lads will fit in nicely alongside Bobby Crowe, Kyle McCauley and Michael Haskins who progressed from the Reserves to the senior squad last season and will provide competition for places in attack.
By his own high standards, top striker Chris Trussell, without a recognised partner, had a mediocre season with 14 goals, so there are opportunities for the newcomers to shine.
Manager Hughes also has other irons in the fire, and hopes to be able to parade more newcomers when training starts on June 20 at Ballyclare Secondary School.
Meanwhile, Hughes is making progress regarding a replacement for reserve team manager Ronnie Burns, who has opted to succeed his brother Gary at Ballynure.
“Ronnie did a good job for us as manager of the Reserves, finishing runners-up in the very competitive Ballymena Junior League Division 1,” said Hughes, “and we are very sorry to lose him. We understand his ambitions to manage at the higher level, and we wish him every success in his new post.”
The Reserves will be parting company with the Ballymena set-up if the proposed IFL Under 21 Development League gets the green light, and Hughes is hoping to be able to announce a replacement for Burns in the near future.
Pre-season friendlies: Moyola, away, Saturday 16th July, 2.00 pm; Shankill United, away, Tuesday 19th, 7-30 pm; UUJ, home, Tuesday 26th, 7.30 pm; Greenisland, home, Saturday 30th, 3.00 pm.