Belfast Telegraph

Lurgan Celtic already preparing for life in Championship One

By Keith Bailie

Belfast Telegraph Championship One new boys Lurgan Celtic have made the first marquee signing of the summer.

The recently-crowned champions of Championship Two have snapped up former Linfield and Portadown midfielder Jamie Tomelty.

Manager Colly Malone is understandably delighted that he has managed to land the highly regarded 31-year-old, who left Dungannon Swifts earlier this month.

“It's fantastic news for Lurgan Celtic. Jamie is a wonderful player and he will bring a lot to our team. It will be great to have someone of Jamie's calibre and experience in the dressing room, while his ability is up there with the best of them.

“It's the sort of signing that will help us bring other players to the club as he's the sort of guy you want to work with.

“In fairness, we've a great team here and everyone has agreed to stay on for next year. We feel we only need two or three new signings to compete in Championship One, as we've had a fantastic season.”

Lurgan Celtic won Championship Two by five points, conceding just 21 goals in 28 games.

Former Glenavon boss Malone said: “Personally, it was very pleasing. I think our defence was the main difference between ourselves and the likes of Annagh and Limavady.

“As a club we're not looking to just go up and make up the numbers. Our long-term aim is to become a Premiership club. We're on the tails of Glenavon at the moment and there is no doubt they're the number one team in Lurgan, but we believe there is room for us too. A lot of people leave Lurgan to support the likes of Cliftonville on a Saturday. We want to provide an alternative closer to home. Our support grew throughout the season and we want that trend to continue.”

It hasn't all been good news for the Lurgan club. There is a possibility they may have to move out of Lurgan to compete in next season's Belfast Telegraph Championship.

The Hoops currently ply their trade at Knockramer Park, which is owned by Mid Ulster Football League side Oxford Sunnyside. There are suggestions Oxford may not allow Celtic to play at their ground next season, which means they would need to find a new temporary home.

Manager Malone said: “Nothing has been decided yet. The club are talking to Oxford at the moment, so hopefully something can be sorted in the near future.”

Lurgan Celtic will be joined in Championship Two by Annagh United, who finished just two points ahead of third-placed Limavady United.

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