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Braniff top target for window shoppers as Ards join queue

By Graham Luney

Ards boss Colin Nixon has confirmed that the club has joined the race to net Kevin Braniff. The Glenavon striker handed in a transfer request in December which was accepted by manager Gary Hamilton, sparking a scramble to snap up the former Portadown ace, possibly in the current transfer window.

The Ports are also keen on Braniff along with Ballymena United whose boss David Jeffrey is a big admirer.

Braniff has six months of his contract remaining at Glenavon, allowing him to speak to other clubs about a potential move away from the Lurgan side.

Glenavon are naturally keen to secure a fee or a player exchange for the former Millwall man.

Nixon admits it will be "difficult" to secure the 33-year-old's signature but he hasn't given up hope on a deal being done.

"Kevin Braniff is a player we are looking at," admitted Nixon.

"I'm trying to make it happen but it will be difficult. I hope to announce a signing (today) but as Kevin is available to speak to clubs it's right that we are interested in a player of that calibre."

A return to Portadown may interest Braniff but Cliftonville, Glentoran and Linfield have shown interest in the past and the player won't be short of options.

Braniff, capped twice by Northern Ireland during the summer tour to the Americas in 2010, fell out with former Ports chief Ronnie McFall but Niall Currie is now leading the charge at Shamrock Park.

The hitman, who scored in last season's Irish Cup final win over Linfield and scored four in the semi-final victory over Crusaders, has been left frustrated at a lack of regular first-team action this season.

Ards, meanwhile, have handed new deals to Kyle Cherry, Aaron Hogg, David McAllister, Carl McComb, Craig McMillen, Johnny Taylor and Gareth Tommons, keeping them at the club until 2018.

"I felt like I had to act as other clubs were showing interest," added Ards chief Nixon.

"When other clubs are talking to the players I had to move to keep them here. Performances have been quite good but we have to start picking up results. We will go to Coleraine this weekend in positive mood, believing we can win.

"Sometimes you just need to get the rub of the green in this game and will keep going with the right attitude," commented Nixon.

Meanwhile, Portadown's home league clash with Crusaders on Saturday, February 25 has been moved to a 5.30pm kick off.

• Striker Warner Mullen has rejoined Ballinamallard United from NIFL Championship side Loughgall while Mallards defender Ryan McConnell has turned his initial loan spell into a permanent transfer, signing for 18 months from Finn Harps.

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