Ards striker Joe McKinney to join Ballymena United
Ballymena United have signed Ards striker Joe McKinney, with Matthew Shevlin moving in the other direction on loan until the end of the season.
The clubs have reached agreement for financial compensation to release McKinney from his contract, which was to run until June.
McKinney joined Ards from Comber Rec at the start of the season and scored six goals in 25 appearances.
He has agreed a two and a half year deal with the Sky Blues.
Shevlin has played just five times for Ballymena this season.
The 18-year-old scored on his debut for Ballymena in November 2014 and featured regularly for the Sky Blues under previous manager Glenn Ferguson.
His efforts to secure regular first team action have been hampered by injuries in recent months.
McKinney did not feature in Ards' 2-0 Irish Cup defeat by Crusaders on Saturday so should be available for the remainder of Ballymena's Irish Cup campaign.
Striker prolific against Ballymena this season
The forward has scored three times against Ballymena this season, including netting both goals in Ards' 2-1 County Antrim Shield quarter-final victory at the Showgrounds in October.
"To say I am delighted to bring Joseph to the club would be an understatement. He can play in different positions - up front, midfield and on the right wing, so he is a very useful addition to our squad," said Ballymena manager David Jeffrey.
"He is strong, his talent is unquestionable, he brings goals with his game and we are particularly delighted by the fact that, despite numerous other clubs chasing his signature, he chose Ballymena United."
"I am over the moon to finally get this sorted and conclude what I see as a great move for me. David and Bryan (McLoughlin) were a big influence in my decision to sign here and I am looking forward to working under them here at a big club," explained McKinney.
"I have been looking at the squad, full of young talent, and I'm sure David will only look to strengthen it more. Nothing will surprise me here, we have an opportunity to go and win things and nothing is out of the equation with cup success and a place in Europe high on the agenda this season."