NPL: Danny Ireland to make fresh start in 2018

IMPOSING: Goalkeeper Danny Ireland claims the ball while in action for Hamilton last year. Picture: Jonathan Carroll

IMPOSING: Goalkeeper Danny Ireland claims the ball while in action for Hamilton last year. Picture: Jonathan Carroll

LEADING goalkeeper Danny Ireland will switch to Charlestown next year and is confident of a successful return to the Northern NSW NPL from a season marred by illness.

Ireland will join Hamilton teammates Scott Smith, Kane Goodchild and Grant Brown at Charlestown, who have also recruited Kevin Davison and Riley McNaughton for 2018.

Incoming coach David Tanchevski confirmed Ireland and McNaughton as his latest additions on Tuesday.

Both were part of Tanchevski’s 2014 grand final-winning squad at the Lambton Jaffas, where he also coached Davison and Brown.

While McNaughton has stayed at the Jaffas, Ireland has been at Hamilton since 2015 but played only seven times this season before taking the rest of the year off to overcome illness. 

The former Australian under-20 keeper last featured in a 2-0 win over Weston in round eight but Tanchevski said Ireland was “on top of what was going on” and was “confident of being 100 per cent for next year”.

“He’s hanging to get back into it,” Tanchevski said. “I’ve worked with him before and he’s a professional guy who brings a lot of confidence to the team, especially the backline in front of him.”

Tanchevski said the addition of Ireland was exciting, especially given the recent form of current keeper Nathan Archbold.

“We’re going to have two quality keepers for the top grades, so I’m really looking forward to next year,” he said. “I’ve been watching Archbold and his last four or five games have been brilliant.”

Ireland, who stands 193-centimetres, quickly established himself as the league’s top keeper when joining the Jaffas in 2013. That year he helped them finish second in their first season in the top division and he was again a key player in 2014 when they defeated Weston 2-0 in the grand final.

He continued that form across the next two seasons with Hamilton, who made the grand final in 2015 and went through the regular season undefeated last year but lost Ireland to an ankle injury late. 

The 26-year-old former Coventry City player was looking forward to the move.

“I have played under Tanch before, we had a really good culture, we won a grand final and they were very enjoyable years,” Ireland said. “I'm keen to join the club. Charlestown are looking to build a positive environment and I wanted to be part of that.”

Hamilton have found an excellent replacement in Tyler Warren, who has helped them stay in the title mix.

McNaughton, meanwhile, will give Charlestown another option in midfield.

“Riley gives 110 per cent all the time and his work-rate is phenomenal,” Tanchevski said. “He whips a good ball in and is also a good defensive player. He can play anywhere across the midfield and he’s a really good guy as well.”

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