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Aaron Callaghan: Lifting NI League Cup at Seaview would be so special

By Graham Luney

It's not quite the master against the apprentice, but Aaron Callaghan's managerial career hasn't rewarded him with the highs David Jeffrey can recall.

While the Ballymena United supremo has been involved in so many finals he couldn't tell you how many, the Carrick Rangers chief is relishing his first as a manager.

Callaghan has won silverware as a player, including two league titles with Crusaders in 1995 and 1997, but steering unfancied Carrick to NI League Cup success at Seaview would really be a fairytale adventure.

After replacing Roy Walker as Crues boss for the 1998-99 season, he gained further managerial experience in the League of Ireland with Athlone Town, Longford Town, Bohemians and UCD.

Appointed to the Carrick role in October, the Dubliner's total focus was on Premiership survival so the League Cup journey remains a major surprise.

"We're definitely the underdogs, particularly because they've beaten us a few times already this season and of where they are in the league but it seems to be the year of the underdog," said Callaghan.

"If you look at the result of Brexit, that tells a tale or two and there have been one or two other shocks around the world.

"We're not concentrating on them, we're concentrating on what we can do and we'll prepare the lads as well as we can.

"I'm really looking forward to it. It's my first final as a manager.

"I've been an assistant in finals down south, I've won leagues and cups as a player so I'm really looking forward to this.

"When you spend four or five years there (at Crusaders) as a player and a year and a half as a manager, you've got fond memories of the place.

"It's (Seaview) a special place in my heart, always has been and always will be. I've still got some great friends down there and I'm delighted that the final is there."

Both clubs are meeting in a domestic decider for the first time since the 1984 Irish Cup final, which Ballymena won 4-1.

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