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McNally is determined to haunt his old Sky Blues pals and make history

By Graham Luney

Paddy McNally is hoping to go from a Ballymena United County Antrim Shield hero to an NI League Cup villain on Saturday.

The 22-year-old scored United's opener in their thrilling 3-2 victory over Linfield in last January's Shield decider at Windsor Park, but now he's at Carrick Rangers and gunning for the Sky Blues in a major final this weekend.

He also came close to competing for Cliftonville in a League Cup final against Crusaders but just missed out.

"Yeah, I played in the Shield final and it was a great night," said the centre-back. "We beat Linfield at Windsor.

"I opened the scoring and it was great to get on the scoresheet, but the biggest thing was winning the game and lifting a trophy.

"A couple of seasons ago (2013-14), I was on loan at Cliftonville and I featured in the quarters and semis of the League Cup.

"But my loan deal from Celtic was up on the Friday night, the day before the final (against Crusaders), so that was disappointing to miss out.

"It's great that I've now got the opportunity to play in a League Cup final and I'm looking forward to the experience.

"I won the Shield and I have a league medal from my time with Cliftonville (2013-14).

"I spent the best part of a season on loan at Cliftonville and played a few games.

"Not as many as I would have liked, but it was a fantastic squad and I played my part.

"That was probably one of the best sides Cliftonville has ever had, so it was difficult getting into the side consistently, but it was a great experience. 

"There was such a winning mentality in the changing room and you feed off that.

"I played enough games to get a league medal, but I would like to add a League Cup medal to the collection."

Former Lurgan Blues defender McNally felt his side really rose to the occasion in the 1-0 semi-final win over Glenavon at Mourneview Park and he feels a similar spirited showing will be needed to topple David Jeffrey's side in front of the Sky Sports cameras.

"The win at Glenavon was a result nobody expected, apart from ourselves," said McNally. "We went into that game confident we could get a result and reach the final.

"We had a good gameplan and had a real go at Glenavon. Mourneview Park in recent years has been one of the toughest places to go, so it was a big result.

"Again, Glenavon were favourites that night, but we went about our business quietly.

"We did well that night and hopefully it'll be more of the same in the final.

"It's a massive game. It's live on Sky and it's a sell-out so it's not every week you get to play on that kind of stage and in games like this.

"It's important you relish it. Personally, I know I'm up for it and speaking to a few of the lads, everyone is looking forward to it."

McNally joined Carrick in July last year after making 16 appearances for the Braidmen last season.

Both clubs have never lifted the League Cup and the former Northern Ireland Under-21 international is well aware of the excitement at the prospect of Carrick winning their first silverware since the 1993 County Antrim Shield final win over Glentoran.

"I've heard about the history and this is the first time the club has been in a League Cup final," added McNally.

"We're aware of all the stories, but at the same time I don't read too much into it.

"I look at it as another game of football. 

"We have a chance to achieve something great for the club, but you only worry about that when you get the job done.

"We'll be well up for it and we'll give it a good go."

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