The return of big time football took a step closer with the announcement of the fixtures for the coming Danske Bank Premiership 2016/17 season.
With Ballinamallard still just weeks away from the end of last season their preparations for that first day kick-off against Linfield in Ferney Park are, of necessity, rather frenetic in character.
The biggest news in the past week has been the departure of Ryan Campbell who returns to Dergview after four years with the Mallards which saw him bag 34 goals.
“Ryan has been a great servant to the club, I’d have liked him to stay, but after discussion I couldn’t guarantee him first team football,” said Ballinamallard boss Gavin Dykes. “At his age he wants to be playing as much as he can. We wish him the best of luck and hope things go well for him. He’s given a lot to the club, a really good guy.”
News on inward traffic is a bit lighter on the ground with a number of deals in the works just awaiting final confirmation.
“Nothing at the moment, but I expect that by the end of the week we’ll have two new additions. That would be the plan. At the minute it’s hectic trying to get the people that we want in. These things don’t happen overnight and players never sign the first time you meet them.”
In the meantime Dykes has been getting a handle on the playing staff to hand and is reasonably satisfied with the state of play so far. However, he has targeted Ballinamallard’s late fade outs as an area in need of priority attention.
“We’ve had three sessions. We did a fitness session last Thursday where we assessed the players fitness, which I have to say isn’t too bad. But then again they’ve been doing bits and pieces because the season’s only after finishing.
“We did a double session on Saturday which went fairly well. We’re in again Wednesday night and probably twice more before the week is over.
“The players fitness levels are OK, but one of the things I’m very strong on is that they’ve got to be fitter than they were last year. Looking at the stats we conceded a lot of goals in the last few minutes. We’ve got to be able to go for 94, 95 minutes.
“We’ll build it up slowly. I’ve got to be very conscious of the lads who have been playing nearly all year and not had a break.”
Pre-season competitive action is still a bit away with a few friendlies in the works, but the second string are back in action this week with Derek Sharpe’s men out against Magheraveely in the Coffey Cup. The first team manager says he’s keen to develop a good conveyor belt of talent from the youth ranks into the senior squad.
“I’ve had two meetings with Derek and he’s a huge part of what I want to do, develop players. Results in that league, as far as I’m concerned, don’t matter. It’s about trying to develop players to play the right way and the way we want to play.”