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Tony Kane heaps praise on the medical staff and hails new era for club

By Alex Mills

Tony Kane paid tribute to the Ballymena United medical team for patching him up for Saturday night's League Cup final.

The free-scoring midfielder sustained a hamstring injury in last week's defeat by Crusaders and was 'touch-and-go' whether he'd be ready to face Carrick Rangers.

"I received injections in the back of my leg, but there was no way I was missing this," he beamed after his team's historic win. "I hadn't trained all week, so I was a little bit fatigued at the end.

"It was no surprise that I was eventually taken off for the final few minutes, but was delighted to be replaced by Gary Thompson because we are very close friends.

"I'm so happy to be part of this win, and for the manager, his backroom staff and all the fans who gave us great support. It's unbelievable - winning this cup is a brilliant feeling."

Kane, who has found the net 18 times this season - 12 from the penalty spot - thought he had added to his tally late on when his free kick was arrowing into the top corner only to be pawed away by a fantastic save from Brian Neeson.

"I thought it was going into the top corner," he laughed. "I thought I was going to be one goal closer to my 20 target. I scored one from a similar position against Crusaders last week. I had a feeling about it, but what a save it was by the keeper to keep it out.

"This could be the start of a great era for this football club -we have a manager that knows how to win.

"Our focus is now on a massive Irish Cup quarter-final against Coleraine in a few weeks time. We have got a great squad of players here, but if we happen to qualify for Europe, it would give the boss the finance required to bring in even more quality which would help us to start challenging for league titles a few years down the line."

Conor McCloskey, who grabbed his team's sensational second goal, insists that David Jeffrey is a manager with the midas touch.

"I signed for Ballymena United to win trophies," he said. "That was the reason I left Carrick Rangers. I didn't want to go through my career without a winners medal.

"It's just no coincidence that Davy won all those trophies at Linfield and now he has win the League Cup at Ballymena in less than one year in charge.

"He is a winner. We are still aiming for a top six finish in the league table and we are also in the quarter finals of the Irish Cup, it doesn't get much better.

"You seen the brilliant support we received from Ballymena fans in this final. If we happen to get to the final of the Irish Cup, who knows how many more would come out.

"Europe is our main focus - that's the priority right now."

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