The European Regions’ Cup has turned out to be a jinx for Ballyclare Comrades, with three of their four representatives who took part in the Dublin tournament having left Dixon Park.
With Andrew Doyle and Kyle Buckley having already opted to go to Carrick Rangers and Ards respectively, it came as a shock to supporters when long-serving goalkeeper Paddy Flood signed for east Antrim rivals, Larne.
“Paddy wanted first-team football and I couldn’t guarantee that,” said Reds’ manager David Dorrian. “I know he has been at the club for eight or nine years, and that he has figured in the Regions’ Cup several times, but we now have competition for the number one jersey.
“Jonah Nicholl has been performing brilliantly for the reserves and showed up well when he deputised for Paddy on a couple of occasions and we now have recruited Sean Ward, a 27-year-old from Ahoghill Thistle, so there is competition for places.
“When Davy McAlinden approached Paddy, he felt he would relish the opportunity of a new challenge, so we parted company on the best of terms. There are no hard feelings and I wish him all the best at Inver Park.”
Dorrian is no lover of the Regions’ Cup. “Immediately after the end of the season players are straight into this tournament instead of having time to recover from a hard campaign. This year we had five players called up for the tournament in Dublin, but Chris Trussell had to withdraw because of study commitments. Of the remaining four Flood, Buckley and Doyle have all left, while the fourth, Joel Cooper, was in Glasgow having trials with Stranraer and we might lose him too.”
Dorrian added: “Because of injury and teaching commitments, Chris missed most of last season but he is raring to go, and we look forward to him returning to his prolific scoring form. We also welcome back midfielder Johnny McClurg after a brief sojourn with Ballynure Old Boys. He played in our first friendly, looked fit and sharp, and I am glad to have him back on board.”
Dorrian reckons the Comrades have a tough assignment in the Steel and Sons Cup away to Ards Rangers in the first round on August 15. Rangers are reigning Amateur League Premier League champions and Border Regiment Cup holders.