Belfast Telegraph

UK Website Of The Year

Jeffrey can inspire the Sky Blues to great things: Kane

By Billy Weir

Tony Kane has revealed the secret of David Jeffrey's success at Ballymena United - hard work and belief. Jeffrey guided his new charges to February's League Cup final - his first decider with the Sky Blues - with Tuesday night's defeat of local rivals Coleraine.

Kane's penalty at the start of extra-time in a nail-biting encounter at Warden Street set United on the way and, incredibly, it was his 10th spot-kick success of what is turning out to be a memorable season.

The Braid sit fourth in the league and now have that final against Carrick Rangers to look forward to in the New Year and Kane, who has 12 goals to his credit this campaign, is hoping it can be the start of something big for the club.

"It's going to be a big day out and I've had plenty of days out and been disappointed," said Kane.

"I was sent off in an Irish Cup final and headed the ball back for Marty Donnelly to score in the League Cup final, but I have won two Co. Antrim Shields so it has been up and down.

"It's magic and we'd love that crowd every week. I know it's hard for people to come all the time but we're going to do things. Davy is here and has a three-year plan.

"I thought Spike (Glenn Ferguson) did a great job but you know what David Jeffrey is like, he fills you full of belief.

"The club is on the rise and we're all looking forward to it. Maybe a couple of seasons ago we might have lost that game but there's just that belief in the boys."

Kane's goal set United on the way in extra-time, with Cathair Friel and Darren Henderson adding gloss to the win, although the Bannsiders protested bitterly that the penalty he scored should never have been awarded.

That didn't bother the 29-year-old one jot as his nerveless display from 12 yards continues.

"There was a wee bit of extra pressure but I'm always confident in those situations, especially as that's my 10th of the season," he added.

"It's freakish, it's just one of those things and I'm just fortunate that my name's assigned to it.

"Jenks (Allan Jenkins) missed one last year and I scored one at Cliftonville but at the start of this season they were coming like buses!

"After that our fitness levels kicked in. Pre-season was the toughest I've ever had but the training has really helped us, as did coming in on the back of two wins while they came in on three defeats. It doesn't matter about resting players, you have to play your strongest team week-in, week-out."

Linfield are up next before Coleraine get a chance to exact quick revenge on Boxing Day and Kane is adopting his manager's mantra of putting the final on the back-burner.

"Congratulations to Carrick for getting there but we're just going to concentrate on ourselves," he said.

"We have Linfield this Saturday and Coleraine on Boxing Day, that's what we're looking to now. We have to forget about it now and concentrate on the league."

For Jeffrey the chance to add to his silverware collection in his first full season in charge would add yet another chapter to his already jam-packed footballing life story, but he is a man well versed in the history of the local game and was in no mood to treat Carrick lightly.

"1975. Carrick Rangers against Linfield, Irish Cup final - what was the score?" he growled.

"Understandably where we are in the league and where Carrick are, on paper we should be favourites and that's fair and reasonable.

"The reality is that football isn't won on paper and anyone who starts showing this team respect are actually not showing respect.

"We're playing against another Premiership team who have got to the final, who have gone and beaten Glenavon at Mourneview.

"Any cup competition is a bonus, an absolute bonus, the bread and butter and the pathway this club is on is the league.

"We have to go to Windsor Park against a Linfield team hungry for points on the back of having played extra-time.

"We've stopped talking about the final. Some of the players said, 'could we maybe have a celebratory beer?' I think it was tongue in cheek because they got absolutely withered."

As for Tuesday's game, he admitted he was preparing himself for penalties and not just Kane's effort.

"Ultimately what changed it was the penalty decision. I honestly thought at one stage that it was going to go to penalties because I couldn't see either side scoring," he said.

"It was going to be a piece of brilliance or a mistake. The penalty that we got, I genuinely couldn't see it and I'm not doing an Arsene Wenger here because I had the fourth official and the linesman in front of me.

"There are varying opinions as to whether it was or wasn't, all I say is that at Cliftonville we had a stonewall penalty and it was not given, so sometimes you win, sometimes you lose."

Belfast Telegraph

Popular

From Belfast Telegraph