Belfast Telegraph

O'Neill played key role in Ballymena United goalkeeper search

By Keith Bailie

Glenn Ferguson enlisted the help of Glenavon legend Dermot O'Neill in his search to find a new goalkeeper.

The Ballymena United boss has signed former Shamrock Rovers goalkeeper Aaron Shanahan, on the advice of his former Glenavon team mate.

The Sky Blues have lost both first choice goalkeeper Dwayne Nelson and back-up shot stopper Stuart Addis to long term injuries, while Crusaders are expected to recall Frenchman Yohann Lacroix before the January transfer window closes.

In the short term, Ferguson is hoping Shanahan (29) will solve Ballymena's goalkeeping injury crisis.

"My good friend Dermot O'Neill, who I played with at Glenavon, recommended Aaron to me. We brought him up and had a look at him in training and our goalkeeping coach Wes Lamont was very impressed.

"In truth, it's a bit rushed and I haven't seen an awful lot of him but if you've been at a club like Shamrock Rovers then you must have something about you. I'm no goalkeeping expert, but if Dermot O'Neill and Wes Lamont are impressed by him, then it's good enough for me. It was a difficult situation, and hopefully it's one we've now resolved."

Lacroix, who starred on New Year's Day against Ards, will play in tomorrow's game against Ballinamallard United at The Showgrounds.

However, Crusaders have told Ballymena that they can not play Lacroix against Harland & Wolff Welders in the Irish Cup.

Ferguson explained: "We were delighted with how Yohann performed against Ards.

"He kept a clean sheet and he made number of important saves in both halves. He commanded his area well and he was quick off his line to sweep up any danger.

"He's a great keeper but, unfortunately, we won't be able to hold on to him. Crusaders won't let him play in the Irish Cup and we expect them to recall him before the end of January, that was all part of the agreement.

"It's not easy signing a goalkeeper at such short notice, and we always knew Yohann would just be a stop-gap.

"We've now lost both Dwayne Nelson and Stuart Addis for the season.

"Dwayne has damaged his posterior cruciate, which could keep him out for a full year. It's an unfortunate situation."

Belfast Telegraph


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