Mark Kelly: Premiership newcomers Carrick Rangers sign striker from Ards

Mark Kelly
Kelly was part of the Ards side that finished 11th in the Premiership last season

Newly-promoted Carrick Rangers have signed striker Mark Kelly from Ards.

The 29-year-old, who was previously with Ballymena United, scored eight goals in 22 Premiership games for relegated Ards last season.

Kelly becomes Carrick's fifth new signing since they secured promotion to the top flight by beating the North Down side in the play-off final.

Defender Caolan Loughran has also made a permanent move from Ballymena after an impressive loan spell last season.

The 24-year-old centre-half scored 10 goals in 33 appearances for Carrick last season and was included in the Championship team of the year.

"I'm delighted to get Mark on board - I've been an admirer of his for a few years," said Carrick boss Niall Currie of Kelly's arrival.

"My attraction to Mark has always been the constant improvement he has made in the last few years, as well as what he brings to the team.

"He can do the lot - he is strong in the air, holds the ball up well and can create for others. The fact that he has chosen us over three other clubs tells me that he is here for all the right reasons."

Speaking of Loughran's decision to agree a permanent deal, at Taylors Avenue, Currie added: "Loyalty is pretty much unheard of in these times, but Caolan has shown that enjoying your football is sometimes the most important thing.

"He has grown with this squad and has been, as they say, one of the main men - that's what he should want. By staying here he has turned down offers which would have given him European football; he has stayed loyal and remembered where he was when we signed him."

Ballymena's Willie Faulkner and Ards midfielder Kyle Cherry have also joined Carrick in the off season.

Versatile defender James Ferrin has joined from Glentoran, with left-sided midfielder Adam Gray signing from Ballyclare Comrades.