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Ballymena United have struck gold with Shay McCartan signing, says David Jeffrey

 

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UNITED EFFORT: Shay McCartan rejected full-time deals in England to sign up for Ballymena

UNITED EFFORT: Shay McCartan rejected full-time deals in England to sign up for Ballymena

UNITED EFFORT: Shay McCartan rejected full-time deals in England to sign up for Ballymena

Ballymena United boss David Jeffrey believes he has unearthed a nugget in new signing Shay McCartan.

Having initially played for Glenavon, the 26-year-old had spells with Bradford City, Lincoln City, Accrington Stanley and Burnley and has twice been capped by Northern Ireland.

With a mouth-watering derby fixture against Coleraine looming next weekend, Jeffrey is already licking his lips in anticipation.

"I think we've struck gold with the signing of Shay," beams DJ. "He has played at different levels in the Northern Ireland shirt, from Under-17 right through to the senior side, so it would be fair to say we got ourselves a quality player."

McCartan spent the last three seasons at Bradford and it was by a strange quirk of fate that he arrived back on his native shores.

Indeed, McCartan - a top-rated gaelic footballer who won the MacRory Cup with St Coleman's College, Newry, back in 2010 - only returned home because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

It gave him the chance to become involved in the family business which prompted him to turn down full-time contracts in England.

"I don't have to wax lyrical about Shay's ability and talent - his record speaks for itself," adds Jeffrey. "He is coming to us from full-time football after turning down a number of offers to stay in England.

"It just happened that we at Ballymena United could offer Shay what fitted in with his plans at this moment in time.

"He has returned home to take a pro-active role in the family business, but he still wants to play football and the part-time aspect appeals to him.

"When I explained to him the journey we are on and where the club had a vision to go, he wanted to be part of it.

"I've no doubt he can be a big asset in the coming season, along with the other new boys."

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