Belfast Telegraph

Crusaders boost title bid by finally landing prolific McGonigle

Jamie McGonigle
Jamie McGonigle

By Graham Luney

Crusaders have finally landed their top transfer target of the summer - Coleraine striker Jamie McGonigle.

The deal looked dead when Bannsiders boss Oran Kearney explained the clubs were struggling to agree terms but Coleraine have now allowed the 23-year-old to make the switch.

McGonigle, who lifted the Irish Cup in 2018, netted 65 goals in 179 appearances for the Bannsiders. The frontman, who made his Coleraine debut in February, 2015, has agreed a three-year deal with the Crues.

Kearney said he felt it was wrong to hold onto a player "against his will".

"After the initial bid from Crusaders last month, we tried to speak to Jamie and convince him to stay at the club like we would with any other player with a year left to run on his contract," he told the club's website.

"Despite pushing hard, Jamie told us he didn't want to enter negotiations immediately and that he would maybe speak to us around Christmas time.

"The problem with that is not only would Jamie speak to us at Christmas, but there would be other teams involved and we wouldn't want to enter a bidding war.

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"It's also important that we protect the club financially and look at the bigger picture as it would be difficult for all parties if Jamie signed a pre-contract agreement with another club in January.

"I have learned from past experiences that keeping a player against his will is a detriment to both parties.

"Jamie is a top person and player. I've always had a close relationship with him and his father. I am privileged to have worked with him and played a part in his development and I wish him all the best in the future."

Ronan Hale's recent departure had left the Seaview side with Jordan Owens as their only senior out-and-out striker, although well supported by attacking stars like Paul Heatley, David Cushley, Ross Clarke and Jordan Forsythe.

Crusaders begin their Danske Bank Premiership campaign at home to newly promoted Carrick Rangers tomorrow.

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