IRISH LEAGUE: Ballymena United sign winger Conor McCloskey from Carrick

Winger Conor McCloskey has joined Ballymena United from Carrick Rangers. Picture: Pacemaker Press.
Winger Conor McCloskey has joined Ballymena United from Carrick Rangers. Picture: Pacemaker Press.

Ballymena United have tonight completed the signing of Carrick Rangers winger Conor McCloskey.

The 24-year-old moves to the Showgrounds after signing a two year deal.

McCloskey, who can play on either flank, has spent four years at Taylor’s Avenue and was a key player in Rangers’ promotion season in 2014-15.

In their first season back in the top flight, McCloskey scored six goals to help the east Antrim side maintain their Premiership status on the final day of the season.

“I am absolutely delighted to be able to bring Conor to Ballymena United,” said manager David Jeffrey.

“He’s been the target of several other clubs now and over the past couple of seasons but his loyalty to Carrick has been commendable.

“Now he feels ready to move on to his next challenge, and he fits the profile of player that we have been looking for in our dealings to date, he’s hungry for success and up for the challenge of bringing that to the Sky Blues.

“Paul McAreavey had also been watching Conor under his previous role at Linfield, so we know a lot about his pace and how technically gifted he is in that role.

“We met a few weeks ago and we talked of our plans for the club and our ambitions and laid the same challenge to him, as we have all players, only if you are 110 per cent committed can you sign that form.

“Conor was a gentleman to deal with and had his mind made up to sign and it was very pleasing that we are able to bring in another player under the new wage structure here.”

He becomes United’s fifth signing of a busy summer, following the arrivals of Johnny Flynn, Denver Gage, Kyle Owens and Cathair Friel.

UNDER-19 TEAM

Meanwhile, Ballymena United are to enter an under-19 team in the Lisburn Youth League next season.

Under the current NIFL redevelopment, reserve and youth leagues have been scrapped and replaced by a single new U20 development league, with restrictions on the number of ‘over age’ players.

Jeffrey explained the rationale for a new team, “Under the new structure we aren’t convinced about leaving a huge gap between players at U17’s level and the new U20’s team.

“There’s too much scope for local players slipping through the net and lack of opportunity for developing local young talent.

“Entering the Lisburn League at U19 level allows us a continuum for development to make Ballymena United successful for the Ballymena community by creating a clear pathway for local players.”