New Ballymena United signing, Joe McCready, admits it will be difficult to face his old club, Institute, in the future but is keeping his fingers crossed they can avoid the drop.
The 29-year-old, who signed a two and a half year deal with the Braidmen, did not take the decision to leave ’Stute lightly but is happy to have departed on good terms.
“I’m delighted to get it over and done with,” he insisted.
“It’s been going through my head the last while, so I’m relieved it’s now done and I have left Institute in good terms.
“I really enjoyed my time at Institute. When Paddy (McLaughlin) signed me I knew it was going to take me a while to get into the team as they were doing well, but as soon as I got in there was no looking back and I loved it.
“I got on really well with Sean (Connor) and while we haven’t been doing as well as we would have liked lately having lost a few players, my time with ’Stute has been great. I’ll look back on it with fond memories but sometimes you have to move on.
“I spoke to some of the players and to the manager and don’t even want to think about the ’Stute games before or during the split. I don’t want to be the boy who scores a goal to relegate them, I couldn’t think of anything worse. I want ’Stute to stay up.”
McCready was forced to put in extra hours in the gym when he initially made the switch to ’Stute and also paid tribute to then boss, Paddy McLaughlin, for believing in him as he built an excellent understanding with Michael McCrudden, the duo going on to become one of the top partnerships in the Danske Bank Premiership last season.
“When I first joined the boys were training three or four nights a week and I was behind in terms of fitness but I did a few extra sessions at the gym with Paddy and those one-to-one sessions helped hugely,” he explained.
“Paddy warned me at the start it was going to be tough, but he also said that when I did get into the team I wouldn’t look back and he was 100 per cent right.
“Me and Mickey formed a good partnership and did really well.”
McCready, who has netted 10 goals this season, admits moving to the Sky Blues and working with manager David Jeffrey, was too good an opportunity to turn down.
“When I spoke to David and his coaching staff, they told me they have been watching me for a while and I was probably a bit starstruck. Well maybe not starstruck but David has a presence,” he admitted.
“When you think of the Irish League, you think of David Jeffrey so to get the chance to work with him, I couldn’t really turn it down.”
The ex-Coleraine man isn’t available for United’s Irish Cup tie at Warrenpoint Town as he’s already cup-tied but he’s hopeful of being in the squad for the home clash against Carrick Rangers on February 8th.
“I can’t play against Warrenpoint this weekend but hopefully I can do enough in training to go straight into the squad for Carrick.
“I’m looking to finish the season strongly and then look to improve again next season.”