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Ballymena v Glenavon: Lee Doherty can be crucial

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With Steven Beacom

Many moons ago I was in the privileged position of being manager of the Northern Ireland Media football team.

We played charity games all over the country, most at Irish League grounds.

As the team name suggests we had people like match organiser Joel Taggart and Michael McNamee from the BBC and the then UTV presenter Graham Little involved plus written press including Frank Brownlow and Stuart McKinley from this paper.

The craic was good. So was the team, thanks to the ringers brought in to help.

Some top Irish League players featured without their club managers knowing. Even international stars enjoyed putting their boots on for us – Michael Hughes the best of a brilliant bunch.

The games were fun, but we wanted to win too.

I always knew we had a chance when one particular ringer was available – Lee Doherty, the ex-Linfield and Glenavon star who also played for Northern Ireland.

Like when he turned out in big fixtures for the Belfast and Lurgan Blues, he drove our boys on as if we were playing in the World Cup.

Doherty is now assistant manager of Ballymena United, who face Glenavon in tomorrow's Irish Cup final.

Glenavon, led by Gary Hamilton, are favourites, but don't rule out Ballymena, 25 years on from their last Irish Cup triumph.

They've some decent players, a clever manager in Glenn Ferguson and canny coaches Norman Kelly and Wes Lamont in their corner and of course, the inspirational Lee Doc.

Belfast Telegraph

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