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Loughran out to pack a punch like ex-boxer dad

By Graham Luney

Given that his dad is a former World welterweight champion boxer, Ballymena United defender Caolan Loughran is naturally the man to put Carrick Rangers on the ropes at Seaview on Saturday.

Eamonn, a former Commonwealth welterweight title holder, clinched the WBO welterweight title by beating American Lorenzo Smith at the King's Hall in 1993 and now he's hoping his son can land a knockout blow and help bring the NI League Cup to Ballymena for the first time. Centre-back Caolan is hungry to make headlines of his own and a few words of wisdom from his father will keep his feet on the ground.

"My dad tells me to make my own stories and make my own headlines," said the 22-year-old.

"At the start, everyone's going to be talking about him and rightly so as he's had a great career but I want to make my own way in football.

"But it's good to have him behind me.

"He's always told me when you win in sport, don't get too high and when you lose, don't get too low. Keep it at a happy medium. That's what I take from him."

The former St Patrick's College student says Ballymena has been struck by a wave of excitement ahead of the final at the north Belfast venue and he's determined to seize the moment.

"I'm a local lad from the town - I know what it means to the fans, I know what it means to the people around the town," he added.

"Everyone's talking about this, everyone wants to be there, get tickets.

"To win it would just be a dream. I was at last year's County Antrim Shield final as a fan and watching it, I was dreaming of being on the pitch.

"Hopefully I get the chance to perform in the final this time.

"I wasn't expecting to be in the team at the start of the year and I worked hard in pre-season and took my chance. I think I took it, I've been in and out of the team but it's been brilliant.

"I come from a sporting background but this has been a fantastic year so far.

"Hopefully we can top it off with a win in the final."

• Charlton Athletic's Northern Ireland U21 striker Mikhail Kennedy has joined League of Ireland club Derry City on loan until June.

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