Harland & Wolff Welders secretary Fred Magee has confirmed that there is no truth in the sensational rumours that the Championship One club are on the verge of signing Keith Gillespie.
The former Northern Ireland international is currently back living in his homeland and is without a club, but Magee confirmed he won’t be signing for the Tillysburn club any time soon.
“A lot of people have asked me about this in the last few days. Last Saturday I stepped out the car at Limavady and it was the first thing I heard — “I hear you’ve signed Keith Gillespie” — but, no it’s not true.”
The rumours started after a conversation between the former Newcastle United winger and the Welders goalkeeping coach Tony Miskelly.
Magee explained: “Tony Miskelly and Keith Gillespie are good mates and they had a chat about him maybe coming down and playing for us as Keith doesn’t have a club at the moment, but I think it was just more of a joke than anything.”
While Gillespie playing for a Championship club would have been a major boost for the division, it was never a realistic prospect.
Magee said: “His registration is still held by Darlington in England and they have the transfer window system in place, so I don’t think he’d be able to move to us anyway.
“Also, I believe that you can’t play in intermediate football if you’ve played as an international this season or the last three seasons and I believe Keith has done that.”
Gillespie’s final international cap for Northern Ireland came in a 2-0 defeat to Hungary at Windsor Park in November, 2008.
The 36-year-old played 80 times for his country, scoring two goals in a career that spanned 14 years.
Since leaving Glentoran in the summer, Gillespie has had spells with Shamrock Rovers and Darlington.
The Welders might not be signing Gillespie, but they do have another cup final to look forward to.
The current Steel & Sons Cup holders defeated Larne 3-1 on Tuesday night to reach the final of the WKD Core Intermediate Cup, although the result was thrown into some doubt once the game had finished.
Larne may appeal the result due to the inclusion of defender Gary Wray in the Welders team as he was listed as a sub in a previous round for his old club Drumaness Mills, in a game also against Larne.
Wray, didn’t come off the bench in that game, which means he was eligible to play in the semi-final and any appeal would fail.