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Cathair is enjoying Friel-good factor at Ballymena

By Graham Luney

Published 24/09/2016

Goal king: Striker Cathair Friel is on fire for Ballymena United
Goal king: Striker Cathair Friel is on fire for Ballymena United

Cathair Friel has admitted he's going to have to revise his goal target for the season after making a sensational start with the Sky Blues.

The former Limavady United goal machine has found the net seven times already - including five in the Danske Bank Premiership - and he's hoping to add to his tally when Glentoran visit the Showgrounds today.

Friel understood the step up to the top flight was going to represent a formidable challenge but the 23-year-old has hit the ground running.

"I'm really enjoying it and the team is playing well. I feel like I'm firing and hopefully that continues," said the frontman.

"I've got seven goals and at the start of the season I had the target of 10 in my mind so I'm going to have to revise that! The first goal against Glenavon was probably the sweetest and one I won't forget."

Friel, who has formed a dangerous partnership with Johnny McMurray, is joint top scorer in the league with Linfield's Aaron Burns and Crusaders duo Paul Heatley and Jordan Owens.

After smashing Limavady's goalscoring record when he plundered 46 goals to help the Roesiders claim the Championship Two title, the striker hopes to dazzle in the Premiership and he's off to a blistering start.

"I didn't have high expectations, just simply to get into the team and try and make an impact," he said.

"You firstly want to make the squad. Now my confidence has gone through the roof because I have been playing and scoring.

"Working with David (Jeffrey) has also been a huge bonus because he is a different class and I'm fortunate to be able to take on board his advice. We have some hard games coming up but hopefully we can maintain our momentum. At the start of the season our target was to make the top six and you always have to be realistic but it would be nice to finish even higher up the league.

"You never know in football and hopefully we can keep progressing.

"The boys that have come in have gelled well together."

Friel turned down a move to United in January as he wanted to finish what he started at Limavady, an admirable show of loyalty to his hometown club.

"I wanted to finish playing for Limavady, my home town club, and just didn't think it was the right move at the right time," he added.

"I didn't know what to expect from the Premiership but it is definitely a tough league and I just want to perform at a high level.

"Glentoran will be tough opponents and I'm sure they will be as motivated to win the game as much as ourselves. It should be a tight game but hopefully we can get the three points."

Elsewhere in the Premiership, second-placed Linfield take on Ards at Windsor Park.

Blues midfielder Ross Gaynor feels his side are moving through the gears.

"Some team is going to get a hiding as we are playing some very good football," said Gaynor.

"I think myself and Kirk (Millar) put in over 29 crosses in the Carrick game and we have dangerous full backs. With the strikers we have we should be winning games comfortably."

Coleraine welcome Glenavon to the Showgrounds. The Bannsiders lost all four meetings with the Lurgan Blues last season.

Champions Crusaders welcome Ballinamallard United to north Belfast while Carrick Rangers host Dungannon Swifts.

Cliftonville visit Portadown having won the last 10 clashes between the sides with the mid-Ulster men even failing to score.

Belfast Telegraph

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