IRISH LEAGUE: Ballyclare Comrades building for the future

Ballyclare manager Stephen Hughes.  Picture: Philip Magowan / PressEye
Ballyclare manager Stephen Hughes. Picture: Philip Magowan / PressEye

New manager Stephen Black’s decision to invite trialists for Ballyclare Comrades Under 20s paid off handsomely with forty-five hopeful teenagers turning up at Allen Park.

“I was delighted with the response, and already I have identified a few gifted lads who should form the backbone of our new look starting eleven in August,” stated Black.

Immediately after the opening session twenty lads were released, while the remaining twenty-five returned on Wednesday evening to meet up with last season’s regulars Curtis Cooper, Jonny Coulter, Luke McCabery and Thomas Campbell who have been retained for another year.

Most of last season’s team have left Dixon Park, with several apparently following manager Kingsley Burrows to Chimney Corner, where they will be competing in the Ballymena Intermediate League, so Black will be rebuilding mainly from scratch.

“My remit is to nurture young talent and produce players for the senior side,” confirmed Black, “so I will be doing my best to keep the conveyor belt stocked. I was quite impressed by the standard of play in the trials, and at the moment I have over thirty players in the squad, but this will be reduced to around twenty before the competitive season starts.

“I plan to have several pre season friendlies, but I am going off on holiday, so there will be no news on that front until I return and get down to business. I think that I have the basis of a side that will give a good account of themselves in the Championship Development League North, and I look forward to the new season with a degree of confidence,” added the former Carniny Youth Colts manager.

Senior team manager Stephen Hughes stated that he is still hoping to add two or three more pre season friendlies to the ones against Ards, Bangor, Glentoran and Coleraine already confirmed., and he is in hot pursuit of a couple more players that he plans to sign.

Meanwhile former Dixon Park favourites Craig McClean and Joel Cooper have made transfer headlines recently, with moves from Crusaders to Ards, and Glenavon to Linfield respectively.