The season is over and I find myself taking a turn in a new direction. Over the summer months, I will be keeping an eagle eye on the movers, shakers and all the transfer rumours. This is sure to be a busy transfer window in the Danske Bank Premiership, as all the clubs try and peg back the ever-impressive champions. Larne will come into the fold and spend when and how they see fit. If Glentoran gets their much-needed investment they too will be spending as they please. Crusaders will be looking to strengthen, but they need to offload a few players at the minute before it’s all talk of players coming in.
So let’s start with the champions Linfield. They have moved quickly to secure the services of striker and top marksman Andrew Waterworth, and defender Mark Stafford. This is, for me, the best piece of business David Healy could have done at the end of the season. Moving on is young Kyle McClean. He has moved back to his parent club, St Johnstone, after signing a one-year contract extension. Also leaving the Blues is striker Merek Cervenka. He came as an unknown quantity and will leave as an unknown quantity due to lack of game time.
Over to the north side of Belfast, Crusaders have started early in the re-shape of the squad. Stephen Baxter has moved quickly to sign Chris Hegarty from Dungannon Swifts. That makes it six centre-halves on the books at the club. I really hope Chris gets his chance. Also following Hegarty from the Swifts is left back, Jarlath O’Rourke. With Mark McCrystal probably moving on, the Crues are left with Michael Ruddy and Rodney Brown in that problem position. Brown has had nothing but injury problems. I think that was why they installed the lift in the McDonald centre… so Brown could get up to the players’ lounge?
Staying in the north of the city, Cliftonville have secured the final European slot. Talk this week that the League might be losing a spot in the competition due to lacklustre performances makes sense. Some clubs only use it for the money. When you let your main players go on holiday, and sometimes even managers on the days of the qualifiers then why should anyone else bother? For the Reds, long-serving midfielder Ryan Catney has now left the club. It will be an interesting few weeks for the Reds now that their season is over at last.
Big David Jeffrey up at Ballymena United was straight out of the starting blocks to tie up his first transfer target, Declan Carville from Newry City. Yes, Newry have been relegated but if you follow the league then you will know that Carville actually had a steady season for the Co. Down outfit. Big Davy is not stupid when it comes to picking up a player and I think he has done a nice piece of business with this signing. Moving on is striker Jonny McMurray. He should have been released at Christmas when he handed in a transfer request. The smell of Larne’s money turned his head and that is where he should end up in the next couple of weeks. Why not go for the payday!
Institute have made their first signing of the season. Brendon McLaughlin a 25-year-old forward signed from the Ulster Senior League Champions Cockhill Celtic. I am not saying I have heard of them but why not give him a chance. He might be the new Michael McCrudden.
Every week I will let you into what is being said around the country about possible ins and outs. This week I will start with one hot topic which is the immediate transfer of Darren McCauley who seems set to leave Inverness Caledonian Thistle. Larne, the Glens and the Crues have all been rumoured to be interested and I would say that the latter will have him tied up on a contract before he is released or not long after.
Another name that keeps coming up is that of Robbie McDaid. McDaid himself has said he is not leaving the Oval. If the Glens do not get the investment they are holding out for, like the 10 million they have been holding out for which never came, they may need to sell. And at the right price, any player can be sold.
Moving onto Larne. The club that can spend as much as it likes and never need to worry. Well, every player seems to be going there. Ryan Catney is a name being mentioned. Jonny McMurray will join them when his contract with the Sky Blues runs out. I think we will see the same approach from Larne. Signing players from full-time in England. Not many players in Northern Ireland will want to give up their day job for three years paid work if that. Well unless you’re already unemployed in which case it makes sense. Larne might think they will walk into this league and own it. But it would be silly of them to think that.
Aaron Burns is another player looking for another club. Clearly not happy at Coleraine he is looking away. I did think the round trip he was making to Coleraine from home to train and play was a bit much. Could he be on his way to the Reds? Let’s see if it materialises. Larne might have something to say on this one.
Jamie McGonigle is another player that might be thinking of moving away from this summer. It is no secret the Crues tried to sign him earlier in the season, which the Bannsiders would not entertain. But with new European bounty money, they might sell… if a club was to come back in with a good bid. Will the Crues try again? Watch this space.
One club for me that needs to be putting up a defensive wall around their front gate is Glenavon. Gary Hamilton’s failure to get his team into the European money draw means he has a lot of young players that clubs will become interested in. Coalon Marron has had a wonderful season and is tipped to move across the water. Josh Daniels is being linked with Linfield, Crusaders and Glentoran. Rhys Marshall is another top kid that could get clubs bidding for him. It may be a very hard summer ahead of Hamilton to hold onto some key players.