With the Premiership kick-off looming, Ballinamallard are still in the hunt for central defender as manager Gavin Dykes seeks to wrap up his summer business.
“We have Ciaran Martyn in, I’ve signed a lad, Johnny Leddy as well,” said the Ferney boss. “I’m hoping to bring in one more, but whether it’ll done for the weekend will be touch and go. The young lad I’m chasing is at Colchester on trials at the moment. Depending on how that goes we might be able to do some business. It might be the end of the month before we’re done, but if I can get a central defender by then I’ll be quite happy with the business we’ve done. We’ve made a few good signings and I think the Leddy lad is one who might surprise a few. He’s a special player and he’ll raise a few eyebrows in the Irish League.”
Ballinamallard’s first assignment this season is the visit of Glentoran. Last season the Mallards defeated Gary Haveron’s side 2-1 at home and drew 1-1 in Belfast, before winning 0-1 in the Oval and then winning again after the split in Ferney Park 3-0. Remarkably over a quarter of the 35 points Ballinamallard accumulated last season were won at the expense of Glentoran.
The Glens will undoubtedly be eager to set that record straight, but Dykes says his men have plenty of motivation heading into this fixture too.
“We’re at home and it’s the start of a new season. It took us a long time, seven games, to get points on the board last season. We want to try and get points on the board as soon as we possibly can this season.
“I think it’s a good game for us. Glentoran will be a different animal to what they were last season. Gary [Haveron] has brought in his own players.
“They’re a good team, but if we want to stay in the Premier division and push on we have got to be able to compete with them.
“I’m happy with the business we’ve done. Some of the players we brought in last year will be better for the experience. So I’m optimistic.”
With the pre-season programme no out of the way, it’s down to business on Saturday. On the down-side the Mallards don’t have quite have a clean bill of health for the opening blitz of games.
“We’re carrying a couple of knocks,” said Dykes. “Shane McGinty is struggling and is a doubt for Saturday and James McKenna is out as well. Ciaran Martyn hasn’t done a lot of training and he isn’t up to match fitness just yet, so we’ll assess where he is. As well as that we have three games in a week so we’ve got to be careful.
“Pre-season has gone well enough. I’m happy with the work we’ve put in and what I’ve seen from the boys. There’s a good atmosphere and the boys are looking forward to getting started and so are we. But the results is what matters on Saturday, there’s no point putting in the work in pre-season and not winning.”
But, as ever, a new season brings a clean slate and Dykes is calling on fans to beat a path the Ferney Park on Saturday and help roar the team on to a opening victory.
“I hope to get a good crowd. People know we try and score goals and do things the right way. We’ve a fantastic pitch with a fantastic surface so we want to pass the ball about. Glentoran are the same, we’re both good footballing sides so hopefully can get a scalp. It’s going to be difficult, but we’re looking forward to it.”
Posted: 7:26 pm August 11, 2017