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David Jeffrey: Winning Cups is good, but I want the League title again

By Graham Luney

David Jeffrey says League Cup success with Ballymena United tastes sweet - but he wants to win a League title. The Sky Blues lifted the League Cup for the first time at Seaview on Saturday after goals from Allan Jenkins and Conor McCloskey crushed Carrick Rangers' dream.

It was a golden moment for Jeffrey who won 31 trophies as Linfield boss before returning to the game after a short break to take charge at United in March last year.

The 54-year-old, who steered Linfield to nine league titles, now wants to rediscover that feeling with Ballymena United.

"Cup wins are good but League wins are the most important thing," said Jeffrey whose managerial reign at the Blues spanned more than 17 years.

"In my discussions with the club I asked them what were their thoughts and ambitions? The vice-chairman Don Stirling said 'we have never won a League at Ballymena - how do you fancy that for a challenge?'

"I said 'well it may take us some time and cups will be good but that will be our focus'. When we brought players here we stressed our desire to win the League and that's what we are aiming for - but not this year as Crusaders are too far ahead!"

Jeffrey continued: “We told the players about our vision, our dream, our journey and if they didn’t believe in that then don’t come and join us because it will be good but also demanding.

“These men are hard working, modest and a fantastic bunch. To compare them to anything else or to refer to my achievements with Linfield is wrong. I’m feeling like a new young manager and this is the first trophy with that new club, my club. It’s a phenomenal feeling.”

Jeffrey was also keen to highlight the contribution of his number two Bryan McLoughlin, who has been with him every step of the way in his trophy laden career.

“I’m particularly pleased for Bryan because we are very much a partnership,” he said. “He is an incredible part of what we do. People say David has won this and that but he hasn’t won anything — Bryan McLoughlin and David Jeffrey have won together and we’ve been blessed with fantastic footballers down the line.”

Skipper Jim Ervin, meanwhile, believes this success could be the start of something special for the Braidmen.

“People say once you leave Linfield your days of winning trophies are over — I think I’ve proved that wrong,” he said. “That’s my second winners medal since I’ve joined Ballymena.

“I rate this victory up there with everything I’ve achieved in the past. When you look at the supporters and what this means to them, it’s fantastic.

“We were taking a lot of plaudits this season — people saying how well we have done, but we hadn’t achieved anything until this cup win. It’s a great feeling to finally get over the line by winning this trophy.”

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