TWO of the most well known players in Mayo soccer have been involved in major transfers over the festive period.
Ballyheane’s Peter Burke has signed on the dotted line for Super League rivals Westport United, a transfer which will cause a major surprise in local soccer circles while Castlebar Celtic goalkeeper Ciarán Kelly has moved up the ranks by signing for eircom League Division 1 side Athlone Town.
The transfer of Burke, the captain and treasurer of Ballyheane, is likely to be met with a large degree of shock in the county. Despite being only 25, Burke has long been Ballyheane’s most important player. However, with Ballyheane coming perilously close to relegation from this season’s Super League, Burke has switched his allegiances.
The Mayo Oscar Traynor star, who was once linked with Galway United, will strengthen Brendan O’Connor’s United side ahead of their Connacht Cup campaign which, eventually, will start this Sunday away to Heatmerchants of Athlone.
O’Connor will now have a plethora of options at centre-back with himself, Burke, Joe Lawless, Austin O’Malley and Eoghan McHale all available. Martin Geraghty is slowly returning to fitness also and United, with Paul Fitzpatrick fitting in up front, will undoubtedly be launching a serious assault on the Connacht Cup.
Ciarán Kelly, meanwhile, has rejoined the eircom League. Kelly is the second Celtic player in the past 12 months to join Athlone after midfielder Stevie Ryan signed during the summer. Kelly had an eventful time with Celtic over the past seventeen months.
His transfer to Celtic in August ‘05 led to a maze of objections, holding up the AIB Cup final until the spring of 2006 and Celtic’s run to the semi-finals of last season’s FAI Junior Cup was punctuated by appeal after appeal, all unsuccessful, into Kelly’s eligibility.
Kelly won a Super League with Celtic in 2006 and in joining Athlone, the native of Annefield, Hollymount, will join his fourth eircom League club after previous spells at Sligo Rovers, Derry City and Galway United.