Ballinamallard United manager has suffered a double blow at the news that both Ryan O’Reilly and Sean McEvoy have left the club.

Centre half O’Reilly has had a couple of impressive campaigns with the Mallards and has joined Cliftonville while teenage star McEvoy has left for League of Ireland outfit Bray Wanderers.

McConkey is disappointed to see the pair leave although he knew that their performances would attract interest.

“Naturally I’m disappointed to lose players of that quality but you always knew that they were going to catch the eye of others because of their ability and qualities,” said McConkey.

Indeed, Cliftonville had made an approach for O’Reilly last season but the player opted to stay on.

“Paddy McLoughlin had come in looking for Ryan last season but it suited him with his circumstances at Sligo IT and he didn’t want to leave.

“He wanted to stay with ourselves and he wanted to build on the performances he had the previous season,” said McConkey.

McEvoy had an option of going across the water last season when Portsmouth sought his signature but he was keen to finish his education and stayed at Ferney Park.

However, a move to Bray made sense for McEvoy, McConkey admitted.

“Portsmouth had been looking for Sean so he had a decision to make at the start of last season and he stayed. But for Sean, Bray suited him, the Friday night football suited with his studies and also for travelling purposes so they were the two key elements for him and his family,” he said.

McConkey made the trip to visit McEvoy and his family last week.

“I went to see them to thank Sean for his commitment which was incredible both on and off the pitch and I also wanted to thank him and his family on behalf of the club and to let them know that they are more than welcome at Ferney any time. We will continue to watch Sean’s progress with interest,” stated the Duck boss.

McConkey does though feel that the whole Covid 19 situation had not helped the Mallards. When the season ended the Ducks were chasing leaders Portadown at the top of the Championship table and still had automatic promotion to play for or a possible play off for a place in the Premiership. However, the season ended early with NIFL deciding that only one club would be promoted leaving the Mallards missing out.

“I do believe that situation that has contributed to us losing them is the whole Covid-19 situation. By the season being cut short and us not being involved in the latter games with the promotion push, it has left a vacuum for the players where their heads would have been down. That’s not to say though that at the end of the season they wouldn’t have had a decision to make anyway,” he explained.

He does though believe that the pair have an opportunity to push on.

“I’ve no question about it that the two boys have wonderful potential and it is just about them going on now and fulfilling that. We always encourage our players to develop themselves to the full and the two boys are getting that opportunity to do that,” he said.