Red-hot Friel will get even better, warns Jeffrey
David Jeffrey has saluted the influence of striker Cathair Friel.
Having been snapped up from Limavady United over the summer, the 20-year-old has been a revelation for high-flying Ballymena United. He pocketed his 15th goal of the season in the hard-fought midweek League Cup win over Warrenpoint Town.
With Dungannon Swifts due to visit the Showgrounds today, Jeffrey is confident that Friel can carry on where he left off.
"Cathair has been tremendous," beamed Sky Blues boss Jeffrey. "He is still learning and will get better. He has made a practically seamless transition in stepping up from Limavady, proving he can score in any class of company. I'm not surprised.
"He has struck up a great understanding with Jonathan McMurray. Both players have different styles, the they complement each other so well."
Jeffrey is aware that Dungannon will be eager for a reaction following their league thumping by Linfield last weekend, which was followed by a League Cup defeat at lowly Carrick Rangers.
"They are a good side and are well drilled," said Jeffrey. "But we are on a nice little run again so it's important to keep that going.
"I was happy with the team's performance at Warrenpoint. We knew it would be a difficult test. They defeated us easily there in the final game of last season (before their relegation), so we knew what to expect.
"They are going well in the Championship and were boosted by having Matthew Tipton named as their new boss. Barry Gray did a fantastic job for a long time, but a new man brings his own ideas and a freshness.
"When Warrenpoint went down to 10 men (after Liam Bagnall was dismissed for a late challenge on Jim Ervin), it became even tougher.
"We were not at our best, but sometimes cup games are not about performances, they are about results."
It was Friel who bagged United's second goal which guaranteed them a spot in today's League Cup semi-final draw.
Jeffrey added: "Warrenpoint had three or four really good chances and, on another day, they could have been out of sight.
"But if you don't take your chances when you are on top you are susceptible to being caught out. When we got on top, we capitalised on their mistakes and sealed the win with Cathair's goal. We'll need the same amount of work rate and commitment against the Swifts."