Belfast Telegraph

Dungannon Swifts can finally claim Ballymena bragging rights

Ballymena United 1 Dungannon Swifts 2: Dungannon Swifts claimed the bragging rights and very little else with their first win of the season over Ballymena United.

With neither side likely to be sucked into the relegation zone, this was something of a dead rubber and Ballymena boss Glenn Ferguson was sufficiently relaxed to name a much-changed line-up ahead of Saturday's Irish Cup semi-final with Queen's University.

Ex-Sky Blues striker Gary Liggett put the Swifts in front with Ryan Harpur doubling their advantage in the second-half.

Neal Gawley became the second player of the day to register against a former employer when his injury-time corner caught the breeze en route to the back of the net but the hosts never looked likely to come out anything other than second best in a tame contest.

"I'm not a big fan of the split," said Swifts boss Darren Murphy, whose side had looked briefly poised for a late surge into the Premiership's top six before winding up in the lower section.

"If this is the way forward, we must be on a roundabout because we just seem to be going round in circles.

"This was the fifth time we have played Ballymena this season and it is far too many.

"I remember when playing for Portadown and losing to Ballyclare. Those were the days when there was a chance of an upset.

It is not an upset Dungannon beating Ballymena, or vice versa."

Opposite number Ferguson was very much of a similar mindset.

"I would probably have played a stronger team if there hadn't been a split," he admitted. "But that was very poor today, a lacklustre game with little quality."

Ballymena: Cairns, McCullagh, Loughran, Munster, Ruddy (McCabe, 54 mins), Taggart, Gawley, Davidson (Kane, 46 mins), Millar, McLellan (Lowry, 64 mins), Kelly.

Dungannon: Turker, McCullough, Brennan, McCashin, Grieve, Glackin (S Lavery, 88 mins), Harpur, Fitzpatrick, Hazley (Lowe, 73 mins), Liggett, Brolly.

Referee: Ian McNabb (Newtownabbey).

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