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We may be underdogs but we will bare our teeth, warns ace Salley

By Graham Luney

Adam Salley is hoping he gets the chance to become Carrick Rangers' history boy at Seaview tomorrow night.

The Banbridge goal-getter is dreaming of smashing in the winner in the NI League Cup final and breaking Ballymena United hearts in the process.

Cup finals don't come along often in players' careers and Salley, who celebrated his 20th birthday last week, aims to seize this golden opportunity to sparkle under the lights on the Shore Road.

The former Northern Ireland Under-17 striker has fond memories of the north Belfast venue as he netted the winning goal for Linfield in a 1-0 Youth League Cup final win against Glentoran in May 2015.

With first-team opportunities limited at Windsor Park, Salley signed a season-long loan with Carrick in August and it's fair to conclude that a cup final appearance wasn't on his wish list.

"For a young player like myself this is a massive game and it's huge for the club, a chance to make history and be part of that," admitted Salley.

"If I can win a trophy at such a young age it would be an incredible feeling. I know we will be called underdogs but that won't annoy us. We had a big win against Ards and I think it will be a tough game for both sides.

"We went to Glenavon and won the semi-final against the odds, we will be even bigger underdogs in this one but we want to perform.

"Everyone loves the underdog. It would be terrible to freeze on the big occasion and there will be a lot of people watching on television as well as at the game so you want to do yourself and the club justice. You can't shy away from a challenge like that, you have to thrive on it.

"I've played in finals at youth level but this is the biggest one, the chance to win a major trophy."

Boss Aaron Callaghan has brought a few fresh faces to the Belfast Loughshore Hotel Arena including Declan O'Brien, Kyle McVey, Sam O'Connor, Stephen Quigley and Eamon McAllister.

"With the manager bringing in new faces it increases competition throughout the squad and players want to perform and keep their place," added Salley. "I like the way Aaron is going about his business and he has the experience, as a coach and a player, of winning. I know our biggest priority is our league campaign but there is a major focus on this Cup final too.

"It's important for the fans, too, who have waited a long time for a trophy, there will be a good support getting behind the boys and hopefully we can reward them. I'm sure there will be a great atmosphere at Seaview. My girlfriend and family will be there and it's a great occasion.

"I think it's great that it's Carrick and Ballymena in the final, a refreshing change from the Crusaders v Linfield matches.

"It's nice to see the trophies shared out and if we can win it, it would really lift confidence and morale for the rest of the season."

Carrick defender Paddy McNally, meanwhile, is warning the Sky Blues his men will give it their best shot.

"I'm really looking forward to it. We've been looking forward to it since we won the semi against Glenavon," he said. "Our focus has been on the league, but the closer the final has got the more it has been in our thoughts. We want to have a real go at it. They've beaten us a few times this year, so they'll be strong favourites. 

"There's no doubt Ballymena are a top team and have really got it going. They'll be favourites, but we're determined to have a go.

"We've got this far, we're in the final and anything can happen. It's important we respect Ballymena because they're doing well."

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