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Leeds and Glenavon launch new partnership after long association

 

By Graham Luney

Glenavon have joined forces with Championship side Leeds United to establish a new development partnership.

The link-up should give young players in the Lurgan area a greater chance to fulfil their potential.

Youth football club Lurgan Town are involved in the partnership along with Lurgan Junior High School and St Ronan's College.

It's also an initiative which maintains the proud connections between both clubs.

Glenavon legend and former Northern Ireland international Wilbur Cush joined the Elland Road side in 1958 and went on to take over the club captaincy from legendary superstar John Charles.

More recently, a Leeds United XI played Glenavon at Mourneview Park as part of the transfer deal involving Robbie McDaid in July 2014.

Glenavon Academy chairman Colin Adamson said the partnership should help coaching academies taste more success.

"Unfortunately resources within Northern Ireland football are limited, and only through clubs, schools, governing bodies etc. working together can we get close to bridging the gap between professional academies in England and local Northern Ireland Academies," he said.

"Add to this the professional experience and guidance of one of England's largest clubs and we have no doubts that, once fully implemented, this development partnership with Leeds United, Lurgan Town, Lurgan Junior High School and St Ronan's will establish a solid foundation for all our young players and coaches within Lurgan and its surrounding area."

Lurgan Blues chairman Adrian Teer also welcomed the new link-up and backed the relationship between the clubs to blossom.

"We would wish to thank everyone at Leeds United for their energy, enthusiasm and commitment in bringing this development partnership to fruition," said Teer.

"And we look forward to a successful togetherness in the years that lie ahead.

"Partnerships are seen by Glenavon as an essential way forward for the development of local players, coaches and academies.

"Glenavon is equally pleased to have recently agreed a closer working relationship with one of Northern Ireland's most respected and largest youth football clubs Lurgan Town.

"This will add to our already strong links with local schools such as the Lurgan Junior High and St Ronan's College. 

"Both schools are also recognised for their successes on the sporting field."

Leeds United Academy staff Adam Underwood (Academy Director), Terry Potter (Head of UK Recruitment) and Dougie Bell (Chief Scout) visited Mourneview Park to rubberstamp the partnership.

Meanwhile, Glenavon have confirmed the arrival of Conor McCloskey (above) in a two-year deal following his departure from Ballymena United.

Lurgan Blues boss Gary Hamilton told the club's website: "I am delighted to secure Conor's signature.

"He is a player I have admired for some time. In fact I tried to sign him some years ago when he was at Carrick Rangers but to his credit he stayed loyal to them after they gained promotion to the Premiership.

"I then missed out on him again when he went to Ballymena.

"I think Conor is someone who will definitely strengthen the squad; he is pacey, strong, good in the air and can also score goals.

"In addition he has the ability to play in a number of positions: full back, midfield or up front.

"Given the relatively small size of our squad it is important to have players who are as versatile as Conor.

"In my view he is someone with considerable potential and we hope that he can fulfil it with Glenavon."

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