IRISH LEAGUE: Neill stepping down - but not out

Kyle Neill. Pic by PressEye Ltd.
Kyle Neill. Pic by PressEye Ltd.

Kyle Neill will walk away from top-flight football this summer - but is refusing to hang up his boots.

The 39-year-old clocked up 90 minutes at Solitude on Saturday in Glenavon’s penultimate Danske Bank Premiership date and will be keen to contribute this weekend against Crusaders plus the club’s Europa League play-off push.

However, Neill has no plans to retire from the game once the final whistle sounds on the current campaign - with a welcome return from cruciate ligament damage motivating him to extend life on the pitch for as long as possible.

Neill attracted widespread praise within the game for his ability to battle back from such a serious injury and complete the post-surgery rehabilitation.

After getting back on the field following months on the sidelines he is determined to continue to add to his career minutes.

“It was a hard road back from the injury but I wanted to prove I could still do it and, credit to Gary Hamilton and Glenavon, they offered me the opportunity,” said Neill. “When I was out of the game the motivation to get back and continue playing proved a big part of everything.

“It may take me a bit longer to recover from games now but I still feel strong during fixtures and want to carry on as long as I can.

“I am leaving Glenavon and the Premiership at the end of this season but still want to play below the top division.”

Neill’s career can boast an impressive roll of honour including league and Irish Cup glory thanks to time at Armagh City, Portadown, Glentoran and Glenavon.

Although playing remains his primary focus, Neill’s preparations for future years in the world of football include his UEFA B Licence course and a SuperCupNI role this summer.

“I’ve been doing my B Licence and will come on board with County Armagh at the SuperCupNI alongside Brendan Grimes and Jay Willis,” said the Annaghmore man. “I’m looking forward to that experience but still want to start next season as a player.

“The time is right to walk away from the Premiership but that is definitely not going to be the end of my playing days.”