Ballymena United sign Northern Ireland International Shay McCartan
Ballymena United are delighted to announce the signing of Northern Ireland International Shay McCartan. The 26-year-old striker joins after three seasons at Bradford City, having previously played for Lincoln City, Accrington Stanley and Burnley.
The Newry native returns to Northern Ireland, where he previously played at Banbridge and Glenavon before his move to Burnley in 2010. Having successfully progressed through the Northern Ireland youth teams, and after scoring in the 2017 UEFA European Under 21 Championship qualification campaign, Michael O'Neill handed McCartan his Northern Ireland debut in a home win against New Zealand, after which he retained his place in the squad for the following two 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifying matches, gaining his second cap in a friendly away to Costa Rica.
Manager David Jeffrey was absolutely delighted to be able to unveil McCartan this evening:
“Words can't express how happy we are to secure Shay's services, which is appropriate as his record speakers for itself! 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. 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. 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.”
McCartan says that he's ready to get started in training with the team and prepare for the season ahead:
“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.
“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.
“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.”