FOOTBALL: McIlveen is ‘one of the best’ says Comrades boss

Midfielder Sammy McIlveen is set to return to Ballyclare Comrades from Larne.  Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye
Midfielder Sammy McIlveen is set to return to Ballyclare Comrades from Larne. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye
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Manager Stephen Hughes has already started beefing up his squad to ensure that Ballyclare Comrades will sustain their promotion charge throughout the second half of the season.

Former fans’ favourite, influential midfielder Samuel McIlveen, who apparently is out of favour at Inver Park, has promised to rejoin his friends at Dixon Park as soon as the January transfer window opens.

A year ago Samuel disappointed the Comrades faithful when he was persuaded by David McAlinden to move to Larne, so they are delighted the he has committed himself to the club again.

“When Samuel rejoins us it will be almost a year to the day since he left us, so I am delighted to have him back on board,” stated Hughes. “When he confided to me that he wasn’t getting enough playing time at Inver Park I lost no time in snapping him up, for I believe that he was one of the best midfielders in the league when he left us,” he added.

Back too is Jonny McClurg, but in a backroom role as coach. Jonny was a regular in midfield for a couple of seasons before linking up with Ballynure OB in the Ballymena Premier League.

“Jonny is well on the way to obtaining a Grade B coaching licence, and he will be a positive addition to our coaching staff, alongside William Waite and Andy Smith, with Eddie Hill as assistant manager. We have a set-up comparable to Premiership standards, so here’s hoping we will be in the promotion frame at the end of the season,” he speculated.

Excitement had been building up all week towards Comrades’ top of the table clash with Warrenpoint Town, so it was a big disappointment when it was postponed owing to parts of Dixon Park being frost bound.

The match referee travelled up from Lurgan mid-morning and had no hesitation in calling off the Championship match of the day, when parts of the goal area in particular were unfit for play.

However the postponement meant no change at the top, with the top three teams – Warrenpoint 30 points, Comrades 27 and Institute 27 – all idle, but 4th placed Larne were the major losers. Their defeat left them stuck on 23, and allowed PSNI and the Welders, now each with 24 points, to leap-frog them.

Tension is building towards another top of the table clash this weekend when Comrades travel to Drumahoe to take on Institute in a top of the table clash.

With the teams placed joint second, this is another virtual six pointer, with neither wanting to lose touch with leaders Warrenpoint.

Hughes makes the journey north without top scorer Corey McMullan and midfielder Gary Brown, each serving a one match suspension, but that will make them available for the rearranged clash with Warrenpoint, that has provisionally been pencilled in for Saturday 17th at Dixon Park.

The Supporters Club bus for Institute leaves Dixon Park at 12.30pm.