IRISH LEAGUE: Three depart as Jeffrey begins Ballymena United restructuring

Paddy McNally celebrates scoring for Ballymena United against Linfield during the County Antrim Shield final. The defender is one of three departures from the Showgrounds.
Paddy McNally celebrates scoring for Ballymena United against Linfield during the County Antrim Shield final. The defender is one of three departures from the Showgrounds.

David Jeffrey has tonight begun his restructuring of his Ballymena United squad.

The Showgrounds boss has released three players while four existing squad members have agreed new contracts.

Leaving the club are goalkeeper Dwayne Nelson and defenders Michael Ruddy and Paddy McNally.

Nelson, who celebrated his testimonial season last year, was one of United’s longest serving players, making more than 200 appearances for the Sky Blues in two spells.

Former Celtic central defender McNally spent 18 months with the club after spells with Glenavon and Cliftonville on his return home from Glasgow. The high point of his Ballymena career came when he scored the opening goal in United’s County Antrim Shield final win over Linfield in January.

Left-back Ruddy made 85 appearances for the club after joining from Crusaders four years ago,

Long-serving goalkeeper Dwayne Nelson has been released by Ballymena United.

Long-serving goalkeeper Dwayne Nelson has been released by Ballymena United.

“This decision is nothing to do with the attitude, integrity or application of any player,” said Jeffrey.

“It just so happened during this period they didn’t get to play a lot, and hard decisions had to be made to free up the budget.

We met all the players face to face at the Showgrounds tonight, explained our reasoning and thanked them sincerely for their contribution to the football club.

“How each one of them conducted themselves this evening was a credit to themselves and we wish them the best for the future.”

With Matthew Tipton having retired and David Cushley having signed a pre-contract agreement to join Crusaders, it brings to five the number of players who have left the Showgrounds in the close season.

However, four members of last season’s squad will remain at the club after agreeing new contracts tonight.

Winger Willie Faulkner, defender Kyle McVey and striker Darren Henderson have signed one-year deals, while midfielder Gary Thompson has committed himself to the club for two seasons.

“Ballymena United are introducing a new wage structure with the terms and conditions of contracts having an emphasis on rewards for winning and match performance.

“We are absolutely delighted that those players have shown their commitment by agreeing to extend their time at the football club under these new terms.”

“The club have also made Johnny Taylor an offer of a new contract but he has asked for some time to consider this, which the club have agreed to,” added Jeffrey.

The manager is hoping to add further new signings to the arrivals of defender Kyle Owens and striker Cathair Friel.