Belfast Telegraph

Brown admits he's wary of a Braid backlash

By Graham Luney

Anyone who has ended up on the losing side on Irish Cup final day knows all about the small margin between glory and despair.

The heartbreaking memories never really fade but the best medicine for the hangover is a return visit to the showpiece occasion and a very different outcome.

The Ballymena United players who lost out to Glenavon at Windsor Park last May will be looking to exorcise those demons this season.

And the first team to feel the full force of the Sky Blues' frustration is Crumlin Star at the Showgrounds this afternoon.

The Amateur League Premier Division side know they will face opponents who are determined to bring the trophy back to Warden Street for the first time since 1989.

Glenn Ferguson's side will aim to snatch the Wasp Solutions League Cup off Cliftonville later this month but a few Irish Cup ghosts need to be banished before then. Star boss Sean Brown knows his men have been handed a daunting fifth round hurdle.

"I've no doubt the Ballymena boys will be fired up to get to another final after what happened last season so that just makes the game an even tougher one for us," said Brown.

"We were hoping to draw Cliftonville as it would have been great for the area but facing a Premiership side is the next best thing.

"It's a good draw for both teams and after giving Crusaders a scare last season hopefully we can do the same to United. Their fitness levels will be much superior but this is our cup final and hopefully we can perform."

Star train at Marrowbone Park on Old Park Road but have to play their home clashes at The Cliff in Larne.

"It's an inconvenience but there's nothing we can do about it," added Brown. "Unfortunately we are not allowed to groundshare and Bertie Shaw at Larne has been very helpful."

Star's most famous old boy is Cliftonville hotshot Joe Gormley but Joe McNeill, who went to Portadown, Cliftonville and Coleraine and Ciaran Burns, who moved to Donegal Celtic and Lisburn Distillery, have progressed to a bigger stage.

"It's great to see the boys doing well," adds Sean. "I'm surprised Joe hasn't got his break in the full-time game yet.

"I'm supportive of the grassroots work that is going on through the Irish FA and I just wish more bigger clubs showed an interest in our top young talent."

Belfast Telegraph


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