Larne FC: McConnell brings in three new faces

Larne FC boss Graham McConnell. Photo: Phillip Byrne
Larne FC boss Graham McConnell. Photo: Phillip Byrne

The final three pieces of the transfer jigsaw have been slotted into place and Larne boss Graham McConnell now suspects that Gareth McConaghie, Ruairi McClean and Gerard McErlean will be his last signings before next month’s big kick-off in Championship 1.

He told the Times: “That brings our total signings for the new campaign to 25 or 26 and it’s safe to say that I am not actively seeking any more recruits, because we now have competition for all places and I feel we are well geared for the start of the season.

“McConaghie and McClean are players I had been trying to sign in January, but the two guys wanted to remain loyal to Limavady United and see out the season with them.

“McConaghie is a centre-half or right-back, but he’s a versatile player who has also featured in midfield for Limavady in the season just ended. I believe he is also pretty good from free-kicks, regularly getting them on target from 30 yards and more, but I must admit that I haven’t seen that aspect of his game.

“McClean is also very adaptable; a midfielder who more recently has been utilised as a striker, so that is again a welcome bonus attributed in a player.

“The pair live around Ballymoney and, while that seems a fair bit away, it’s not really because when I was playing we had guys from Ballintoy and all over the place. It’s not a problem.

“McErlean is a goalkeeper - a Lisburn lad who was recommended to me by former Larne manager, Billy Sinclair. He was with Carrick Rangers during the reign of Stephen Small, when he was understudy to Gregg Shannon who was obviously always going to the first choice. Now he’ll be challenging Christopher Keenan for the number-one jersey.

“I imagine that will be the last of our signings before the kick-off. I set out to have a squad of 22 or 23 and have exceeded that, but it’s quite normal for things to change a little in the run-up to the season, with some players deciding they maybe don’t want to stay or, alternatively, a management can perhaps feel some people may not quite fit in with their plans.

“I don’t see anything changing, however, ahead of our first pre-season games this Saturday against Shankill United. The match is scheduled for Inver Park and should attract quite a nice holiday crowd, but there’s just a slight question mark surrounding the pitch.

“As we sit, it looks likely to be at Inver, but we started the works at the ground slightly later than planned and, with Jim McVeigh and several others having given up their entire weekend to try to get the finishing touches to it; we hope it will be ready.

“Speaking of McVeigh, the physio deserves a lot of credit for recruiting a dozen or more businesses to sign up to the membership scheme and you should see signs beginning to go up around the pitch in the coming days, that bringing in extra funds for the club.

“So well done to him and I hope that this will encourage others to join the revolution which is now well under way to revitalise the Larne club.

“I would make a personal appeal to others to please get behind us in our aim to regenerate the place and give the town the football club it deserves,” added an effervescent McConnell.