Shay McCartan relishing new challenge with Ballymena United

New Ballymena United signing Shay McCartan says he is looking forward to "getting back to football" after agreeing a deal with the Sky Blues.
Shay McCartan in action for Northern Ireland against Costa Rica back in 2018Shay McCartan in action for Northern Ireland against Costa Rica back in 2018
Shay McCartan in action for Northern Ireland against Costa Rica back in 2018

The 26-year-old arrives at Ballymena Showgrounds after spells with Bradford City, Lincoln City, Accrington Stanley and Burnley.

McCartan, who won two Northern Ireland caps under Michael O'Neill, says he is relishing the new opportunity with David Jeffrey's side.

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"I came home in March when the season was suspended for Covid-19, and initially told to take a week off, but obviously the season never restarted," he told the club website.

"In May the out-of-contract players were released and the longer I stayed at home I realised I was happy being here. I was offered full time contracts in England, but working at home was something new and I was enjoying the hours and the lifestyle and the busyness of it all really was great.

"Joining Ballymena United suits me perfectly. I wasn't looking for full time football and in speaking to other players that had been here, I heard good things.

"Just look at the management staff and the careers they have had, they are obviously good at what they do and that brings success. I met Bryan and David last Friday, I liked what they had to say and really my mind was made up.

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"Now I'm looking forward to getting back to football. I've missed playing and just want to get out there. I've maintained my fitness levels during the pandemic and am looking forward to meeting up with my new team mates."

United boss Jeffrey is delighted to have landed the former Banbridge and Glenavon players.

"Words can't express how happy we are to secure Shay's services, which is appropriate as his record speakers for itself," he said.

"I don't have to wax lyrical about his ability and talent. He's a 26-year-old Northern Ireland international coming to us from full time football, he had a number of offers to consider and we're delighted that he chose Ballymena United.

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"We're getting a quality player with proven ability and just it so happens that what we could offer fitted in with Shay and where he is at at this moment in time.

"Last year I said that the landscape of local football was changing dramatically. Considering the outside investment into teams, over 2 million euros in European money this year, and where clubs are far down the road in building resources, like at Crusaders and Cliftonville - however, every so often a situation arises where what we are able to offer is suitable to someone's circumstances at a particular given time.

"The simple story is that Shay has returned home to take a pro-active part in his family's business but still wants to play football and the part time aspects appeals to him.

"Bryan and I met Shay and told him the journey we're on and where we want to go. We were just honest with him and how we saw his part in the plan.

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"He took the weekend to consider it, and concluded that what we are able to offer suits him and where he's at in his football and life journey."


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