Belfast Telegraph

County Antrim Shield: Beaming Ballymena boss Glenn Ferguson on an all new high after Windsor triumph

By Graham Luney

Glenn Ferguson declared that his second County Antrim Shield triumph over Linfield gives him an even bigger high than the 2012 victory against the Blues.

When Ballymena United won the Shield at The Oval it was Ferguson's first trophy as a manager and it also ended 23 years of hurt for the club and supporters.

But Linfield legend Ferguson could not conceal his delight at Windsor Park last night as the Braidmen rocked David Healy's side 3-2.

"This is a better feeling for me as having lost two cup finals (Irish Cup in 2014 and League Cup last season) you think we are out of luck and against Linfield you are massive underdogs," said Ferguson.

"Nobody would have given us a hope. They are all good, especially the first one as a manager, but we were playing Linfield at Windsor Park and I said to the players they shouldn't need inspiration to play at this venue in a major final. They rose to the occasion."

United are now celebrating their sixth Shield success and Ferguson says his men showed tremendous resilience in taking a 3-1 lead after Linfield had equalised early in the second-half.

He added: "I'm delighted obviously as when you get to a cup final your ultimate goal is to lift the trophy and we've done just that.

"I felt we were well in the game, then Linfield were awarded a free-kick, it cost us a goal and two yellow cards. That's the turning point.

"We panicked a bit, but regrouped and started playing well.

"It was a great move for David Cushley's goal and that's what he does best.

"The last time we won the Shield a centre-half, Davy Munster, scored the goal for us so we brought Paddy (McNally) in and he was superb for us.

"He defended the way he had to, shackled Guy Bates for much of the game and got a goal which is not what he was expected to do.

"There's a lot of people that go unnoticed on a night like this, but Stephen McBride was brilliant and the two midfielders Gary Thompson and Gavin Taggart stopped Jamie Mulgrew from dictating the game.

"Allan Jenkins played well, holding the ball up and we notice these things. Jim Ervin was outstanding but he won't get accolades as he's like that every week."

Goalscorer Cushley, who will join Crusaders at the end of the season, kept up his record of netting in every round.

"That's brilliant," he said. "It's a good achievement and scoring in the final is special.

"Four cup finals in four years is a great record for the club to have.

"It was a really good cup final, end to end action. We knew there was nothing to fear.

"It was a really hard fought game and they really came at us in the second-half, but we defended for our lives and held on."

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