Matthew Fitzpatrick: Antrim gaelic footballer to join Coleraine in January

Antrim forward Fitzpatrick will move to Coleraine from Belfast Celtic
Antrim forward Fitzpatrick will move to Coleraine from Belfast Celtic

Coleraine have boosted their Irish Premiership title bid after agreeing a pre-contract agreement with Belfast Celtic striker Matthew Fitzpatrick.

Fitzpatrick, 25, will join the Bannsiders in January on an 18-month deal, keeping him at Ballycastle Road until the end of the 2020/21 season.

Fitzpatrick has played Gaelic football for Antrim and won a Sigerson Cup with St Mary's in 2017.

"We are delighted to get him board," said Coleraine boss Oran Kearney.

"There have been other clubs who have been after him as well, so we are glad to get the business done."

Fitzpatrick was memorably handed a 48-week ban from playing for Antrim following an incident during a Division Three Football League game against Armagh in March 2017.

While that suspension was overturned in time for him to feature in the 2017 Ulster Championship, he has seemingly chosen Irish League football over another stint in the Saffrons panel.

"Matthew has been on the radar for the last six to eight weeks," added Kearney, speaking to Coleraine's website.

"We've had him watched the last few games and his name just keeps popping up through different people in relation to the level of his performances.

"For Belfast Celtic he generally plays as a striker and he has good physical attributes, but he has also played in midfield, so his versatility appealed to us as well.

"Full credit must go to Stephen McAlorum and Belfast Celtic who have been fantastic throughout this process. They are understanding and very glad to see him get his move to Premiership level."

This is the second established GAA player Kearney has signed since returning to Coleraine in the summer, having also snapped up Derry's Emmett McGuckin.

Bannsiders striker Eoin Bradley also played county football for the Oak Leafers.

Coleraine are currently second in the Irish Premiership, two points behind leaders Cliftonville.