Hot news from Holywell Town – they’ve signed Mark Connolly!

Johnny Haseldin (left) with new signing Mark Connolly

Three weeks after announcing his retirement, Mark Connolly has had a change of mind and joined tier three club Holywell Town as a player.

Connolly, 35, has featured in 390 Welsh Premier League matches (336 starts and 54 substitute appearances) and netted 100 goals exactly.

He ended the 2018-19 season at Llandudno, who were relegated from the top-flight, and last month “Conno” declared on social media he was hanging up his boots.

However, the persuasive powers of Wellmen manager Johnny Haseldin has meant the former Bala Town, Rhyl and Bangor City attacking midfielder reversing his decision and signing for the Halkyn Road club.

Holywell were relegated from what was known as the Huws Gray Alliance last season and are scheduled to play in the Welsh National League (Wrexham Area) Premier Division in 2019-20, but the situation could change if Bangor City are found guilty of a fresh alleged breach of FAW rules and subsequently docked further points.

City originally received a 45-point penalty for alleged offences relating to signing players between November 2018 and January 2019, which if upheld would have meant them going down and Holywell staying up. On appeal, however, the Citizens’ deduction was cut to 24 points, meaning Town went down on goal difference.

News is now awaited on what happens next with the Bangor City situation.

Despite a summer of disruption and uncertainty, Haseldin has remained focused on squad-building for the forthcoming campaign.

Some promising new faces have arrived at Halkyn Road, but the capture of Connolly rates as one of the biggest close-season signings in North Wales football so far.

Connolly first joined the League of Wales in 2003/04, signing for Bangor City, and was at Farrar Road for two seasons, signing non-contract for TNS for their Uefa Cup games during that spell.

He put pen to paper for Rhyl before the 2005/06 season and won the Welsh Cup in that campaign. He went on to become a popular Lilywhites regular, being part of the 2008/09 WPL title-winning squad before in 2009/10 enjoying a prolific spell in front of goal.

Following Rhyl’s demotion at the end of that season on licence grounds, Connolly moved to Chester FC.

A knee injury restricted his chances with the newly-formed club and he signed for Bala Town in 2011, spending seven successful years at Maes Tegid that saw him make 191 (+31) appearances and score 76 goals in total.

The 2013-14 season was a particularly successful one, bringing him 21 goals in 30 league starts. He was an unused substitute when Bala won the Welsh Cup for the first time in 2016/17.

At the start of 2017/18, Connolly returned to Rhyl and later that season had a stint as player-manager.

Last season he made a WPL comeback with Llandudno and was a virtual ever-present, but the Seasiders ended the campaign getting relegated.

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