Ryan puts pen to paper for Ballymacash outfit

Ryan puts pen to paper for Ballymacash outfit

7 April 2021

BALLYNAHINCH goalkeeper Ryan Walsh has completed a move to Mid-Ulster League outfit Ballymacash Rangers.

The former Ballynahinch Olympic shot-stopper enjoyed 18 years of success at his hometown club including six promotions and winning the Border Cup.

Walsh helped take his Ballynahinch side all the way to the Amateur Premier League. However, the 28 year-old custodian has now decided to move on to join the new project at Lisburn-based Ballymacash.

“After listening to the club itself, the expectations and future planning is very exciting,” he said. I feel the challenge is ambitious, and I feel like I want to be apart of it.

“The signings the manager has brought in are unbelievable. Players such as Michael Moore with the odd age and experience and talented players like Nigel Prentice, Josh Cahoon and Scott Dornan to name a few. I just feel as if a new challenge will be good for myself.”

Walsh thanked his former team as he looked forward to new beginnings. 

“Olympic are my boyhood club and I wish the boys all the best for the season ahead. There is no doubt I’ll be back to support them on my free weekends,” he remarked.

“I want to thank Olympic for accepting me to move on and signing the transfer. Yes, I took a bit of stick for it, but it’s part and parcel of life.”

Walsh has been a target for Ballymacash manager Lee Forsythe for a considerable amount of time, with Forsythe highlighting what Walsh will bring to his squad.

“In my opinion, Ryan has been the best goalkeeper in the amateur league over the past number of years and I believe he will be worth an extra 12 points over the course of a season for us,” Forsythe said.

“Ballynahinch Olympic is a really well run club, the players are hard to get away from there, but what we are building here excited Ryan.”

Ballymacash recently received a £1 million pound investment, with a state-of-the-art pitch and clubhouse among the welcome additions.

Forsythe also mentioned the importance of the experience Walsh brings to the team, noting he is part of a long term plan.

“Ryan will also be a massive benefit to help with the development of our 18 year-old goalkeeper Rhys Lawson who we also rate highly.

“Ryan has only ever been at two other clubs, so he is a loyal boy and is here to stay. We want to utilise him as a mentor to the next generation coming through.”

Walsh has starred in two Border Cup finals, putting in the man of the match performance in his team’s agonising penalty shootout loss to Crumlin Star in 2018. He would not rest on his laurels for long, however, as the claret and blue side won the trophy a year later.

“There has been quite a few highs whilst at Olympic” said Walsh. “Starting with the acceptance to get into amateur league football, winning and gaining promotion for several leagues with winning Division 1A being one of the best feelings.

“Gaining Premier Division status for a small club like Olympic was huge, alongside back-to-back Border Cup finals was great. 

“Obviously, losing to Star in the first final on penalties wasn’t nice to take, but beating Rathfriland in the final tops it.”

Walsh has now set his sights on a potential season ahead, with his own long term plans in mind for his new club.

“My aims for the long term is hoping to be able to push Ballymacash to become a championship side. Making the move to Ballymacash will be great exposure for myself too and the messages I’ve received from players and some management from other amateur league clubs have been respectful. 

He continued: “The support I have received from players, committee and fans of the Ballymacash has blown me away. I want to thank Lee and Ballymacash for giving me this great opportunity. I’m very excited and hope we can bring silverware to the club this season.”