Loan Watch: 2023/24 review

May 12, 2024 | First Team, Scholarship

As the domestic season comes to a close across the leagues around the country, we take a look at how our players who were out on loan got on at their respective clubs.

Sean Brown

The young defender has featured in every league game for Ballymena United since joining on loan in the January transfer window, having spent the first half of the season at Bangor FC in the NIFL Championship.

Making 13 league appearances overall for Ballymena, Brown benefitted from having his first experience as a regular top-flight starter as he became a mainstay in Jim Ervin’s backline, playing at right back each week.

Known for his ability to join the attack alongside being solid defensively, Brown registered an assist in a 4-0 victory over Newry City during his side’s impressive run of form which saw them claim three wins out of five.

Ballymena’s late run of form secured an 11th place league finish, ensuring that automatic relegation was avoided and a play-off awaited against Institute. Playing in both games, Sean Brown helped his side secure Premiership status in nail-biting fashion, with two late goals in the second leg.

Caolan Donnelly

Since joining NIFL Championship side Ballyclare Comrades during the January window, the 19-year-old midfielder became an ever-present in the heart of the midfield, playing in almost every game including 14 league appearances.

With the side not able to break into the top-half for the split, the Comrades were determined to be the best of the rest and they didn’t disappoint, winning all five games, with Donnelly playing a crucial role.

Donnelly found the back of the net twice during the split in victories over Knockbreda and Ballinamallard United, taking his tally to six during a successful loan spell which resulted in Ballyclare Comrades finishing 7th in the standings.

Oisin Devlin

After signing for the Invermen in January, the young midfielder went straight back on loan to Institute for the remainder of the season and played a key part in the club’s climb towards the top of the Championship table.

Aged just 17-years-old, Devlin made a total of 31 league appearances for Institute, who finished second in the NIFL Championship and showed a level of maturity and consistency in his performances which will excite Larne supporters heading into next season and beyond.

After an impressive run of form late on in the season, Devlin and his teammates secured their place in the promotion play-off with a late final day winner against Portadown.

The season would ultimately end in heartbreak for the Derry/Londonderry side after winning the first leg of the promotion play-off, as Ballymena United fought back in the second leg to retain their spot in the Sports Direct Premiership.

Odhran McCart

The young defender joined NIFL Championship side Ards at the end of the January transfer window on a loan deal for the remainder of the season.

Since joining, McCart started and played the full ninety minutes in every game right up to the last two games of the season where he missed out through injury.

Showing consistency in his performances and demonstrating his defensive ability, the 19-year-old played his part in helping the side to a 10th place finish in the table, comfortably clear of the relegation places.

Ben Walker

After signing a two-year professional contract at the club last August, the young defender immediately began a loan spell at Bangor FC to gain first team experience.

The 19-year-old has made over 30 appearances for the Seasiders in all competitions this season, gaining vital experience as the side pushed for the promotion spots in the table.

Walker scored one goal during his time on loan which came in a 3-1 victory over Annagh United back in October.

Matthew Lusty

The young striker joined fellow Sports Direct Premiership side Dungannon Swifts at the start of the season.

The 20-year-old made a big impact at Stangmore Park, scoring nine Sports Direct Premiership goals, alongside three assists.

Lusty also played a key role in the Swifts’ run to the semi-finals of the BetMcLean Cup, scoring three goals and registering two assists in the competition.

However, Lusty’s strong run of form ended abruptly back in December as he suffered a broken collarbone during a Sports Direct Premiership game against Glentoran. The striker returned to the club for treatment and rehabilitation and in the final game of the season, Lusty made his return from injury for Dungannon Swifts, bringing his loan spell to an end with a 3-0 victory over Ballymena United.

Ethan Simpson

Simpson joined NIFL Championship outfit Ballyclare Comrades at the start of the season to gain first team experience.

After making a promising start to his spell in the NIFL Championship, the midfielder picked up a serious injury which seen his loan spell cut short.

Simpson returned to the club for treatment and rehabilitation from his injury and has recently returned to action for the club’s Olympic side.

Other News