Team Taranaki land coup with Halpin signing

TONY BIRD
Last updated 05:00 26/06/2014

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English professional Saul Halpin has signed with Team Taranaki for the tailend of their Federation Football League campaign.

Team Taranaki leads the league points table and are in line for a promotion-relegation playoff for entry into the Central League if they win.

Halpin, 22, is due to arrive in the province early next week.

Team Taranaki coach Ian McGrath yesterday said Halpin will be available to join the squad for the crunch game against Wanganui Athletic on Saturday week.

McGrath, an Englishman, came by Halpin after exploring his football contacts back home.

"I was able to create a shortlist and [Halpin] was the one that could commit to a short-term opportunity," McGrath said, adding it sat well with Halpin's personal circumstances."

McGrath is excited to have a player of Halpin's credentials and experience in his squad for vital games.

"He's certainly got a pedigree of playing at a higher level and surviving in a professional environment on a 3 -year contract, you're obviously a decent player." McGrath said.

He said it was hoped Halpin would have been in the province earlier this month.

"But there were complications securing the appropriate visa and organising flights which delayed things, he said.

The attacking midfielder brings an impressive playing CV.

He is a product of the English college set-up and Torquay United. He was offered a full time professional contract as an 18-year-old during the 2009-2010 season.

He remained with Torquay United to the end of the 2013 season.

His debut for them came as a second half replacement for fellow winger Danny Stevens in an FA Cup clash with Crawley Town on January 29, 2011.

That was closely followed by his league debut, where once again he came on as a second half substitute for Stevens.

Saul continued to be included in the first team squad and made further appearances from the bench throughout the second half of the season.

In 2011, Halpin's performances earned him a trial with Derby County and despite impressing with a hat-trick in a 7-1 win against the Nottingham Forest reserves he remained at Torquay.

Early last year, Halpin was loaned to Southern League Premier Division side Bideford Town for one month. During the 2013 season, he was released by Torquay and joined Bideford Town for the 2013-14 season.

Halpin later transferred to Southern League Division one side Shortwood United in January 2014.

There he made several appearances in a successful second half of the season, helping the club to finish a credible sixth position and only narrowly miss out on promotion opportunities.

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- Taranaki Daily News

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