Belfast Telegraph

Ballymena's teenage star Balmer hopeful of becoming Irish League's next export

By Gareth Hanna

Ballymena United defender Kofi Balmer is hoping he can become the Irish League's next graduate.

Crusaders' Gavin Whyte and Glenavon's Bobby Burns both secured moves into full-time football this summer and Balmer is hoping he can follow in their footsteps before too long.

The centre-half earned rave reviews in his 23 Premiership starts last season, with central-defensive partner Kyle Owens, who has since moved to Crusaders, tipping the 17-year-old for stardom.

"He has signed another three-and-a-half years but I think another year and he'll be ready to go across the water, he's that good. And at only 17 he has it all ahead of him," said Owens. "He listens well and does what he is told, he doesn't answer back and he's a joy to play with."

Balmer, who left Linfield to join United, is quietly confident that dream can soon turn into reality.

"I can't give too much away but hopefully there's more to come," he smiled.

"It's every boy's dream to go across and play professionally. Hopefully everything works out and I can push myself to go full-time.

"I was very friendly with Bobby (Burns - now at Hearts). He can tell me what it's like and see if I would like it.

"I just want to perform consistently and see what happens. I know I need to focus on each and every game as it comes and not get too far ahead of myself. I'll take everything as it comes and if something comes up, hopefully it works out."

United have added a raft of new signings including Ryan Mayse, Jude Winchester and Andy McGrory. Balmer's hoping the new recruits can bring about a positive season at the Showgrounds.

"We're all buzzing," he said. "We can't wait to get started but we don't want to get ahead of ourselves and we're making sure we go out with the right mentality."

"The new signings have all setlled in really, really well. We're all getting along with each other and helping each other out. By doing that, hopefully we can perform well with a good chemistry with each other.

"We've been looking good across pre-season and hopefully we can carry that into the season."

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