INSPIRATIONAL Troon FC sprayed champagne around Hamilton Park last Wednesday as they clinched an immediate return to the top flight.

They secured a place in the Premiership following a 4-2 aggregate win against Girvan.

But in the wake of their success in the play-off, boss Jim Kirkwood cocked a snook at critics from rival clubs who on social media questioned their use of two amateur players.

They fielded Keir Knapp, who scored the winner - and Kieran Paterson from Shortlees Ams.

He said: “This is my third promotion and I am absolutely over the moon. I didn’t think we would get there.

“A lot has been made of the fact that we brought in a couple of players from amateur football as trialists - that is totally legit, in the rules. Anyone can say what they like I duct care. We had 11 fit players- we brought in two trialists who play amateur football. If anybody in junior football gets hacked off at that they should take a look at themselves. We had injuries and have done what we had to do to get up.”

Added the boss: “This is better than the title win of a few seasons ago, because we have battled and really struggled all season to keep momentum going. We behind the scenes have had to fight and scrap to keep things going. When we won the league we didn’t have to do that, we just had momentum and good players.

“We are just three points off second place so we have deserved it in my opinion.”

He added that some clubs had questioned their team-spirit but countered: “The boys are all together. I think you can see our team morale is good.”

Skipper Dean Keenan was overjoyed with the team’s success and said: “There wasn’t much in the second half. Girvan are like a family and stuck together. It was a monumental achievement to get promoted. We had character and endeavour and a right gutsy performance to win at Girvan. Dean Fulton is an enigma and if he brings consistency to his game nothing can stop him playing at the high levels of junior football and above."

Keenan is also impressed with Irvine Meadow and Largs who join the Seasiders in the top league.

He added: “Irvine Meadow and Largs have done well to go up. Meadow deserve great credit and the results they have had since Brian McGinty has come in have been absolutely outrageous.”