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Crusaders 5-0 Ballinamallard: Crues and Irish FA fight over O'Carroll

By Graham Luney

It's a case of free the Crusaders one. Both the Crues and the Irish Football Association want Diarmuid O'Carroll's services on Saturday but there can be only one winner.

While the Danske Bank Premiership champions travel to Glenavon for a tough league battle, O'Carroll is scheduled to work for the IFA at a major grassroots festival in Mallusk.

The Crues frontman and Cliftonville striker Stephen Garrett are expected to support the event in their role as IFA development officers, with up to 15,000 kids joining the party.

Crues boss Stephen Baxter is not impressed with the possible loss of O'Carroll who netted a stunning opener against Ballinamallard United on Saturday.

"I thought Diarmuid was magnificent against Ballinamallard but we may lose him for Saturday as the Irish FA have asked him to work at a festival and I think that is ludicrous," said Baxter. "They are promoting the game in this country but they want to take Diarmuid and Stephen Garrett from Cliftonville away from their teams to work for them. It doesn't make sense, taking out top Irish League players from a Saturday fixture to lift goals and move cones. They need to have a long look at this and get other people to do that job.

"We are not happy and we will tell the IFA that."

Former Glenavon striker O'Carroll said: "It's not an ideal situation but that's my day job. It's disappointing but I'm accepting it at the moment. If you are getting that number of kids it's a big event for them and their parents. Myself and Stevie are the only two boys who play in the Premiership so it's not ideal but it's our job that pays the bills.

"I'd love to be able to do both but they are my employers and it's a big day for our department. If there was any way of a compromise being found that would be great but it seems but I'll have to miss out on the game. It leaves me in an awkward position."

O'Carroll and his comrades were in red hot form at the weekend, blowing away the Mallards with a five star display.

Paul Heatley and Jordan Owens both scored twice following O'Carroll's sweet finish after only two minutes.

Crusaders: O'Neill, Burns, Robinson, Coates, McClean, Whyte (Carvill, 80 mins), Heatley (Forsythe, 84 mins), Clarke, O'Carroll, Owens, Mitchell (Snoddy, 74 mins). Unused subs: McKibbin, Vauls.

Ballinamallard: Rouse, Crilly, Feeney, Carters (Lecky, 46 mins), McLaughlin, Campbell (Hume, 71 mins), Currie (McCartney, 71 mins), McMenamin, McCrudden, Patterson, Martin. Unused subs: McCusker, Smith.

Man of the match: Jordan Owens (right)

Match rating: 7/10

Referee: Keith Kennedy (Lisburn)

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