Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 21 September 2014

Hero Davidson delighted that hard work paid off

Penalty shoot-out hero Alan Davidson revealed that practice made perfect as he fired Ballymena United to victory in the County Antrim Shield.

The man who was at the centre of a registration fiasco that cost the Sky Blues a place in the semi-finals of the Irish Cup last season scored the decisive spot-kick as Ballymena’s 23 year trophy famine came to an end.

And the 24-year-old was also the man who his team-mates wanted to take the crunch fifth penalty, after Linfield’s Daryl Fordyce had seen his saved.

“I kept a clear head, nothing registered with me,” said Davidson.

“I just walked up, was focused and wasn’t going to change my mind.

“I’d practiced penalties at training last Thursday night and kept the same spot.

“I knew what I was going to do and I am glad that the practice paid off.”

Club captain Allan Jenkins came off the bench after missing the last two months through injury and he lifted the Shield aloft with stand-in skipper Aaron Stewart.

And both men had every faith in Davidson’s ability to win the Shield.

“There’s no better man to be in that position than Alan Davidson,” said Stewart.

“He’s Mr Confident and we all expected him to score.”

Jenkins said: “That’s Alan Davidson all over. He’s almost horizontal he’s so relaxed and he’s exactly the man we wanted in that situation.

For Ballymena boss Glenn Ferguson the Shield success is his first trophy as a manager, having only taken over at the Showgrounds just a matter of days before the end of 2011.

“It feels good, but I’m just delighted for the players,” said the former Linfield striker.

“I’ve played in finals, scored goals, had the headlines, but it’s not about me now.

“The players have shown their character. They have been on the end of a couple of pretty heavy defeats in the last couple of weeks and they’ve come back from those and won a trophy. It’s nice for me to win my first trophy as a manager, but for some of these young players this is their first final, their first medal and I am delighted for them all.”

“Both teams went for it and when it gets to penalty somebody wins and somebody has to be a loser. Unfortunately that’s just the way it has to be.”

For Jenkins the Shield win was the perfect way for him to return to fitness.

“It couldn’t have been scripted any better,” said Jenkins.

“I’ve been out for 10 weeks and only had one reserve game, so to come into a final and score a penalty is fantastic,” he continued.

“This is what you play football for. I knew where I was going to put the penalty and I was delighted to see it hit the back of the net.

“I’ve been at Ballymena for three years and have heard all the stories about the 23 years since the last trophy.

“Hopefully it won’t be another 23 years before the club wins something and it won’t be if Glenn is half as good a manager as he was a player.”

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