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McAllister delighted with Swift conclusion of transfers

Former Cliftonville ace and two-time Irish League winner Ryan Catney has signed for Ballymena and Provincial Intermediate League outfit St James’ Swifts ahead of the new season Former Cliftonville ace and two-time Irish League winner Ryan Catney has signed for Ballymena and Provincial Intermediate League outfit St James’ Swifts ahead of the new season
By Paddy Tierney

THE start of the new football season may be weeks away, but St James’ Swifts manager Pat McAllister believes they have completed their signings well ahead of schedule.
Having signed seven players in as many days, including former Cliftonville star Ryan Catney, McAllister doesn’t feel the need to bring any more players in before their Ballymena and Provincial Intermediate League campaign gets underway.
Ronan Hamill and Paul McAdorey became McAllister’s first signings since taking over as Swifts manager before the club confirmed the high-profile signing of Catney.
Liam Carland, Pierce Tully and goalkeeper Michael Magill have followed McAllister and assistant boss Barry Johnston to Suffolk Road from Sport and Leisure Swifts, while Martin Murray has re-signed for the upcoming season.
“I am absolutely delighted,” stated McAllister.
“Sometimes you spend your whole pre-season trying to get players in.
“We’ve started our business really early and we’ve just signed Michael Magill from Sport and Leisure.
“We feel that’s probably the end of us looking to bring players in. We have great competition for places so in a week or two, we’ll start getting the players ready for the new season.”
While Catney’s signature was the undoubted highlight of a busy week in the boardroom, McAllister warned that the former Irish League star can’t be expected to work miracles on his own.
The two-time Irish League winner was deemed surplus to requirements at Solitude following the arrival of Paddy McLaughlin back in February.
During Tommy Breslin’s era at Cliftonville, Catney formed a robust midfield partnership with Johnston and McAllister feels their friendship was a telling factor in bringing the 32-year-old to St James’ Swifts.
“It was a massive factor. When you play alongside someone, you have that bond,” said McAllister.
“At the end of the day, ‘Cats’ will be treated no differently to any other player. He is a winner and he is here to win.
“We feel he will bring a level of professionalism to the club.
“It is a massive signing for the whole club.
“Myself and ‘Janty’ (Johnston) know him very well and it raises the profile of the club.
“We have to also be aware of the fact that signing players like that guarantees us nothing.
“As far we are concerned, the hard work starts when we get back to training at the end of the month.
“There were already quality players at the club and the signings we have made will add to that.”
While Carland, Tully and Magill have moved from Sport and Leisure Swifts, now known as Belfast Celtic, Mark Clarke has gone in the opposite direction and joined his former Glentoran teammate Stephen McAlorum at Glen Road Heights.
“I wish Clarkey (Mark Clarke) all the best and I’ve said before that I’d have no problem going back to Sport and Leisure to sign players,” added McAllister.
“The boys who we have brought in are players we feel will buy in to what we are trying to achieve.
“We met the players again last week and we told them in no uncertain terms what’s expected.
“There is a great buzz about the place and we want them to look forward to coming on a Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays.”
McAllister might want to foster a sense of positivity at St James’ Swifts, but one theme will underpin everything they do in the early stages of the season – discipline.
“There has to be a change in discipline within the club and it is something we’ve spoken about in our meetings,” stated the St James’ Swifts manager.
“If you bring discipline to a club, it is for the benefit of the players, but also everyone at the club.
“I honestly feel, if you are in a team sport and there’s a lack of discipline within the team, you’ll struggle to win anything.
“You need discipline to be successful – that’s my honest opinion.
“Myself and Janty feel that’s the only way to set us up for a good season.”
Meanwhile, recently appointed Belfast Celtic boss McAlorum has also been busy in the transfer market in the last week.
As well as bringing Clarke to Belfast Celtic, he has secured the services of striker Kevin Lynch for another season.
It is understood Lynch had a number of offers from rival clubs, but opted to remain at the club.
Additionally, former Linfield and Donegal Celtic midfielder Ryan Henderson has joined Belfast Celtic.
The Lurgan native had spells on the Armagh senior Gaelic football team in the last decade and he is an interesting addition to the new Belfast Celtic squad.
The club have also appointed Owen Baggley as first team coach and Packy McLaughlin as head of recruitment.

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