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Jeffrey delighted to keep hold of 'special' McCartan after striker signs new deal at Showgrounds



Top boss: David Jeffrey shows off his Manager of the Month award

Top boss: David Jeffrey shows off his Manager of the Month award

Stephen Hamilton

Top boss: David Jeffrey shows off his Manager of the Month award

Ballymena United boss David Jeffrey has labelled striker Shay McCartan a 'wonderful talent' following his late two-goal blast against Glentoran in midweek.

The Sky Blues looked down and out when Seanan Clucas bagged his first goals to put Mick McDermott's men in the driving seat, but 26-year-old McCartan once again displayed his predatory cuteness when it mattered.

Formerly with Burnley, McCartan has been in sensational form - he has bagged 12 goals so far - since moving to the Showgrounds in September, which prompted Jeffrey to offer him a new two-year contract extension.

With other clubs declaring an interest, Jeffrey admitted he is ecstatic he agreed to stay on.

"We knew other clubs would be interested in him, but we encouraged Shay to make the decision that was best for him," declared Jeffrey, who has been named the March Manager of the Month by the Northern Ireland Football Writers' Association. "Having gone through the process, we are thrilled he agreed to sign for a further two years.

"He's a special player. Shay hadn't played for some time before returning home, he had to get match fit. Anyone who comes into the Irish League, it takes time because it's like no other.

"Shay is a wonderful talent. He is not just a blessed naturally talented footballer, he is very much a team player, his performances have been great."

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Jeffrey's boys were unbeaten throughout March which earned him his 37th monthly award - and his fifth with Ballymena.

"It was the most pleasant surprise," he said. "It was a remarkable month because we had 11 players out injured although we made a conscious decision within the group not to mention injuries and not to mention the heavy game schedule.

"It goes back to my days when an old manager of mine, Roy Coyle, said never give anyone any excuse. Never give yourself an excuse or your players an excuse. If you take his strand of thinking a little bit down the line, it's all about being positive.

"There is no doubt we had a little bit of good fortune but the players and the backroom staff have been unbelievable."

Jeffrey will be hoping his boys produce the same level of commitment as they did in midweek when they face Glenavon today at Mourneview Park.

"We contributed to Glentoran's goals in midweek, which was disappointing," added Jeffrey. "There were individual errors made which was quite unusual for the way we have been playing. We really had to dig deep and show resilience, courage, but you also need that bit of brilliance and we got that from Shay. Apart from his two goals, he was absolutely phenomenal.

"Make no mistake about it, it was a very good Glentoran side.

"For us to come back from two goals down was a big feat, now we are coming up against a team we haven't beaten this season.

"Glenavon in many ways are similar to ourselves - they are desperate for European football. We know how difficult it's going to be."

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