Posted on Leave a comment

Pre-Match Guide | Knockbreda 22/01/22

We travel to Breda Park tomorrow afternoon to take on Knockbreda in our next Lough 41 Championship fixture.

Match Info

When: Saturday 22nd January – Kick-Off 2:00pm

Where: Breda Park

What: Lough 41 Championship

Entry: Pay at the gate – £8 (Adult) / £5 (Concession)

The Opponents

Knockbreda currently occupy 9th position in the Lough 41 Championship, just one spot and two points behind the Comrades. Last week they travelled to Queen’s University where The Students collected a much needed three points with victory over Knockbreda at The Dub. Queen’s moved in front after 11 minutes when Leon Bonnes connected with a corner to head past keeper Lewis Deane. It was a lead they held until just before the break when Stephen Garrett levelled for ‘Breda. Queen’s regained the advantage on 79 minutes, however, courtesy of a Chris Middleton tap in following some poor visiting defending. Then, with five minutes remaining, Ciaran O’Hare made sure of the win, only the third in the Championship this season for Peter Thompson’s side.

The Comrades

Two goals late in the second half saw Institute come from behind to defeat The Comrades at Dixon Park last week. The home side needed just ten minutes to open the scoring when an Ian Fletcher cross deep into the box was only partially cleared allowing Liam Hassin to get to the ball and nod past John Connolly. Ballyclare could have doubled their advantage before the break when new signing Caiolan Brennan tested Connolly with an effort from just outside the box, before teeing Michael Smith up moments later to fire just over. Brennan was involved again just after the hour when he nodded the ball on for fellow transfer window arrival Ryan Arthur while Arthur himself turned provider soon after with a free-kick to the back post but Hassin could only head slightly off target. However, Institute levelled on 77 minutes when Brendan McLaughlin, who had come close a few minutes earlier, headed past Jack Ferguson. Then, right at the death, Mark McFadden knocked home what proved to be Institute’s winner with a fantastic individual finish with the last kick of the game. The result keeps The Comrades in 8th position in the Lough 41 Championship, while Knockbreda are only two points behind with a game in hand. Paul Harbinson is focused on using last week’s heartbreak as “motivation to fire us, Institute’s celebrations at the end has to hurt us and we have to go to Knockbreda now with a fire in our bellies and know that this is more important.”

Last Time Out

The last time these two sides met, The Comrades lost out by the odd goal in five away to Knockbreda. The home side moved in front after half-an-hour through Peter McDermott, a lead they held until just before the break when Liam McKenna levelled with a finish into an empty net. ‘Breda regained the advantage early in the second half thanks to Ethan Devine and went further ahead on 56 minutes when Karl Hamill knocked home number three. Joe Tully reduced the deficit midway through the second half from a Matthew Herron pass but Knockbreda held on to claim the points.

Posted on Leave a comment

Welcome Matthew Stephenson!

Ballyclare Comrades is pleased to announce the signing of 20-year-old centre-back, Matthew Stephenson.

Matthew joins the Comrades from Northern Ireland Intermediate League side, Strabane Athletic.

“Having spent time at Foyle Harps, Coleraine, Institute and most recently Strabane Athletic, Matthew is a player we see as having great potential for the future,” said Paul Harbinson. “He has trained with us for a couple of weeks and looks a no nonsense defender who we are looking forward to seeing in a Comrades shirt.”

Matthew will wear the number 12 shirt for the Comrades.

Posted on Leave a comment

Pre-Match Guide | Institute 15/01/22

We welcome Institute to Dixon Park tomorrow afternoon in our next Lough 41 Championship fixture.

Match Info

When: Saturday 15th January – Kick-Off 3:00pm

Where: Dixon Park

What: Lough 41 Championship

Entry: Pay at the gate – £8 (Adult) / £5 (Concession)

Match Sponsor – Abbey Real Estate

Ball Sponsor – Bob McPherson

The Opponents

Institute suffered similar fate to the Comrades last week as they exited the Irish Cup at the hands of Portstewart FC. With the game looking to be heading for extra time, Portstewart’s Mark Edgar struck home an effort from 30 yards into the top corner, leaving keeper, Connolly, helpless. In the league, ‘Stute currently occupy the second from bottom spot, but they did hold league leaders, Newry City to a 0-0 in their last league outing.

The Comrades

The Comrades exited the Irish Cup at the first hurdle last week with a defeat to local rivals Carrick Rangers where the Premiership side were just too strong on the day. The visitors made the breakthrough on the half-hour mark when a lovely ball from Cherry set Gibson free on the left side of the box and he made no mistake clinically finishing wide of the ‘keeper from 6 yards. Eight minutes later Carrick doubled their lead with a great goal. Cherry picked up a clearance from the Comrades defence and struck a superb shot from 30 yards which came off the inside of the post and into the net, giving Richard Purcell no chance. The game rather petered out in its latter stages with the visitors maintaining their lead comfortably and Comrades, although they had steadied the ship defensively, struggling to create much of a threat. Paul Harbinson believes his side can take the positives from last week’s game into tomorrow’s upcoming fixture; “There’s fight, there’s heart and there’s honesty in the changing room. There’s a team that wants to work for each other, we’re still making silly mistakes, but there’s lots to build on and we’ve a couple of new faces coming in as well.”

Last Time Out

The Comrades and Institute drew a blank last time out at Dixon Park in October, although the visitors might feel they should have returned home with the points in the bag after missing a second half spot-kick. The Comrades started brightly, creating an early opening which ended with Liam McKenna dragging an effort wide when through on goal. ‘Stute came close midway through the first half when Aaron McGurk saw a 25-yard free-kick tipped over by Richard Purcell before, a minute after that, he kept out a Jamie Dunne strike. At the other end John Connolly did well to deal with another McKenna effort and was called into action again not long after that to save a Gary Donnelly header. The visitors had a great chance to move in front just before the hour. Curtis Woods was adjudged to have upended Dunne inside the box but, from the penalty that followed, Liam Walsh could only look on as his effort was turned away by the diving Purcell. Ballyclare were reduced to ten men on 74 minutes when Howard Beverland was dismissed for a challenge on Liam Walsh but ‘Stute failed to take advantage and, indeed, have Connolly to thank with a couple of saves late in the game to deny McKenna and Ciaran Dobbin.

Posted on Leave a comment

Welcome Ryan Arthur!

Ballyclare Comrades is pleased to announce the signing of 26-year-old centre-back, Ryan Arthur.

Ryan joins the Comrades from Lough 41 Premier Intermediate side, Bangor.

“Ryan fits perfectly into the category of player that we are looking for,” said Paul Harbinson. “A young man with a good degree of experience who wants to push on and help us to be successful in the coming years. A big, all heart defender, we are looking forward to seeing him in a Ballyclare shirt.”

Ryan will wear the number 5 shirt for the Comrades.

Posted on Leave a comment

Welcome Caiolan Brennan!

Ballyclare Comrades is pleased to announce the signing of young winger, Caiolan Brennan, who is joining on loan until the end of the season.

The 20-year-old joins the Comrades from Danske Bank Premiership side, Coleraine, while he spent the first half of the 21/22 season on loan at Limavady United.

“Caiolan Brennan is a player that we enquired about in the summer, having been an admirer of his pace and ability with the ball for a while now,” said Paul Harbinson. “We’re delighted that he has agreed to join us and thank Oran and Coleraine for their assistance in making it happen.”

Caiolan will wear the number 14 shirt for the Comrades.

Posted on Leave a comment

Welcome Owen McKeown!

Ballyclare Comrades is pleased to announce the signing of right-sided midfielder/defender, Owen McKeown.

The 24-year-old joins the Comrades from Danske Bank Premiership side, Ballymena United where he signed in September 2020 after impressing at Crumlin United. McKeown went on to make 23 appearances for the Sky Blues during his time at The Showgrounds.

“Owen is a player whom we have kept a close eye on for over a year now and we are delighted to have attracted him to the club,” said Paul Harbinson. “He comes with a great level of experience along with a versatile ability and playing style, making him a great asset across a number of key areas in the team. His quick feet and ability with the ball will be something that the fans will enjoy watching. We look forward to working with him!”

Owen will wear the number 4 shirt for the Comrades. Want to show support for Owen? You can sponsor him for £20 for this season and you will get your name/business listed beside Owen on our Sponsor A Player page, as well as a photo opportunity with him. You can sponsor Owen here.

Posted on Leave a comment

Pre-Match Guide | Carrick Rangers 08/01/22

We welcome Carrick Rangers to Dixon Park tomorrow afternoon in the 1st Round of this season’s Irish Cup.

Match Info

When: Saturday 8th January – Kick-Off 3:00pm

Where: Dixon Park

What: Samuel Gelston’s Irish Whiskey Irish Cup

Entry: Pay at the gate – £10 (Adult) / £7 (Concession)

*Reminder to season ticket holders that season tickets are not valid for cup games.

Match Sponsor – Montgomery Transport

Ball Sponsor – 365 Taxis

The Opponents

Carrick Rangers got off to a flying start in the Danske Bank Premiership this season under new manager, Stuart King. More recently, however, results haven’t been going their way and they currently occupy 9th spot in the league table. Last week, they brought their losing streak to a halt with a hard-fought point away to Crusaders. King’s side had lost their previous six outings but almost got off to a perfect start inside the opening moments when Stewart Nixon forced a save from Crues keeper Jonny Tuffey. At the other end Philip Lowry created space on the edge of the area to test Matthew Skeet with a low drive. The bright start didn’t materialise into an entertaining first half with the next real effort of note not arriving until moments from the break when a David Cushley free-kick reached Daniel Kelly but he could only direct the ball wide. It took a while for the second period to get going as well with Carrick coming close to breaking the deadlock on the counter when Kelly produced a left sided diving save from Tuffey to turn a curling effort away. Jarlath O’Rourke then had a go from around 30 yards with just under a quarter-of-an-hour to go but Skeet did well to hold onto the ball. The hosts did have the ball in the net soon after that but Johnny McMurray’s finish was ruled out offside while the same player later scuffed a left-foot shot wide.

The Comrades

Last week, Lee Upton scored both goals as Annagh United came from behind to defeat The Comrades at Dixon Park. Annagh came close to breaking the deadlock inside the opening ten minutes in an otherwise scrappy start when Craig Taylor clipped the crossbar from a free-kick. However, it fell to the Comrades to find a way through when, on 27 minutes, Tom Mathieson turned the ball home with his left foot after Matthew Herron had cut the ball across from the right. The visitors levelled just before the hour with Upton’s first of the game when he rose highest on the edge of the six yard box to nod home a high free-kick into the area. Then, a quarter-of-an-hour after that, he bagged what proved to be the winner with another close range header. The Comrades players protested vehemently that an Annagh player had been standing in an offside position in front of Jack Ferguson, blocking the ‘keeper’s view, but after a long consultation with his assistant the referee let the goal stand. As time ticked away the hosts began to exert some pressure; five minutes into injury-time, what looked a clear goal was not given. Ian Fletcher got free on the left and played a ball into Andrew Mooney who shot from 10 yards. The Annagh ‘keeper appeared to have spilled the ball well over the line and then clawed it back, but the referee and his assistant at that end didn’t agree and no goal was given. Speaking after the game, Paul Harbinson was encouraged by his side’s “good performance levels in what was a really tough day for football”. He also made clear his “disappointment in the decisions that went against us. I’m not one to complain about decisions but today I am. Unfortunately we put ourselves in a place where we allowed those decisions to count and we need to learn from that.” On tomorrow’s upcoming fixture against Carrick, the manager said “It’s a derby, we have to just look at it as a local derby, everybody should be up for it and it shouldn’t take any motivation. It’s a longstanding rivalry between the two clubs and I’d like to think we go into it with heart and fire in our bellies and that’s what the Irish Cup is all about.”

Last Time Out

The last time these two sides met in a competitive fixture was back in November 2018 in the Championship. The Comrades fell to a comprehensive 4-1 home defeat to Carrick on the day. Smith opened the scoring for the visitors as early as the 3rd minute when his free-kick from a central position 22 yards out split the wall and fired past the unsighted Ben Fry. The home side reacted well to this disastrous start and were soon back on level terms. Adam Gray produced a superb run down the middle and surged into the box, where he linked up with Jamie Willighan, receiving a return pass before firing the ball low into the net from 11 yards. The men in red were buoyed by this goal and looked like they could make a game of it, but defensive frailty struck again on 20 minutes to gift Carrick the lead. The visitors got in much too easily, attacking down the left and penetrating the box, where Dean Youle was forced to slide in with a desperate tackle, conceding a penalty. Smith stepped up to calmly convert the spot-kick. The home side continued to look vulnerable at the back and in the 34th minute they conceded another penalty. This time it was Curtis Woods adjudged to have fouled and Smith again stepped up to take aim from the spot. Ben Fry made an excellent save to deny him his hat-trick, but Carrick’s Kelly was quickest to react to the loose ball, slotting it in from inside the 6-yard box. In the 63rd minute the destination of the points was put beyond reasonable doubt when Carrick scored a fourth goal.  A Neale corner was headed in from 4 yards by Kelly, giving Fry no chance. Tempers boiled over in the 73rd minute. An incident involving Dean Youle and Carrick’s Murray ended with both players receiving a red card.

Posted on Leave a comment

Strength & Conditioning Coach Wanted

Ballyclare Comrades FC have an exciting new opening within the backroom coaching team for a First Team Strength & Conditioning Coach on a voluntary basis.

A brilliant opportunity for an individual who is passionate about strength and conditioning coaching and is looking to develop their skillset. Working alongside a passionate team within an established Irish League club that is continually developing.

To apply and discuss the role further, please email secretary@ballyclarecomrades.com

The deadline for applications is ongoing and discussions will be arranged at the earliest possible opportunity.

Posted on Leave a comment

Ballyclare Comrades FC announce the establishment of Ballyclare Comrades Ladies

Ballyclare Comrades FC is delighted to announce the formation of Ballyclare Comrades Ladies, following an amalgamation with Carnmoney Ladies FC. This exciting news has been in the pipeline for a number of months, with officials from both clubs working closely together to plan for the new venture. As of 1 January 2022, Carnmoney Ladies FC ceases to exist, and all previous Carnmoney teams become Ballyclare Comrades Ladies.
 
Ballyclare Comrades Ladies section includes two senior teams, competing in NIWFA Divisions 1 and 2 respectively, while the girls academy fields teams from Under 16 to Under 6, and will compete in competitions such as the SBYL Girls League, IFA East Antrim Girls GDP, IFA East Antrim Boys GDP, Fonacab Development Programme and the Belfast Swifts Development Programme.
 
The Senior Ladies teams will be managed by JP Coogan, providing continuity from his previous role at Carnmoney Ladies. The NIWFA 2022 league season begins in April, and we are excited to see the girls wearing the red of Ballyclare Comrades at Dixon Park.


Reacting to the announcement, Steven Lowry, the Chairman of the new Comrades Ladies section commented:
“When this opportunity arose to join the Comrades, it was too good of an offer to refuse. It’s a great opportunity for the club, we have such a rich history over the last ten years”.

Comrades Ladies Manager, JP Coogan, commented:
“Coming in to a NIFL club gives us better opportunities to progress both on and off the pitch. We now have much better facilities at Dixon Park which will hopefully help us to progress up the divisions”.

Trevor McCann, Chairman of Ballyclare Comrades Mens section commented:
“I think it’s fantastic for Ballyclare Comrades Football Club. In our 102-year-history, we’ve never had a Ladies team and so it’s great to now bring Carnmoney Ladies on board. I believe it is the correct way forward for our great club and I wish everyone involved the best of luck”.
 
Comrades Mens First Team Manager, Paul Harbinson, commented:
“It’s something we have been working on for a long time as part of the development process over the last number of years and I’m extremely excited for the club”.

Posted on Leave a comment

Transfer News | Howard Beverland departs

Ballyclare Comrades FC can confirm that Howard Beverland has departed the club to sign for Portadown FC.

The defender, who previously enjoyed a 14 year spell in the Danske Bank Premiership, joined the Comrades at the beginning of this 21/22 season and made 16 appearances during his short spell at the club.

“Howard was the consummate professional in all of his dealings throughout his time at the club,” said Paul Harbinson. “A real warrior on the pitch but a true gentleman off it. We wish him well and would never stand in the way of a player wanting to return to premier league football.”

Howard’s departure follows the news of both Joe Tully and Gary Donnelly also leaving the club as they joined Ards FC yesterday.

Everyone involved with Ballyclare Comrades FC wishes Howard the very best as he returns to the Danske Bank Premiership.