Belfast Telegraph

Ballinamallard in the Irish Cup final? It's surreal, admits captain Richard Clarke as Ryan Campbell nets winning penalty

Ballinamallard United 0-0 Warrenpoint Town (Ballinamallard win 5-4 on penalties)

Ballinamallard's Richard Clarke celebrates his side's Irish Cup semi-final victory. Photo by David Maginnis/Pacemaker Press
Ballinamallard's Richard Clarke celebrates his side's Irish Cup semi-final victory. Photo by David Maginnis/Pacemaker Press
Ryan Campbell scored the winning penalty for Ballinamallard
Pacemaker Belfast 30-3-19 Ballinamallard v Warrenpoint - Tennents Irish Cup Semi Final Ballinamallard's Duwayne McManus celebrates his goal during today's game at Mourneview Park, Lurgan. Photo by David Maginnis/Pacemaker Press
Pacemaker Belfast 30-3-19 Ballinamallard v Warrenpoint - Tennents Irish Cup Semi Final Ballinamallard's Ryan Campbell celebrates his goal during today's game at Mourneview Park, Lurgan. Photo by David Maginnis/Pacemaker Press
Pacemaker Belfast 30-3-19 Ballinamallard v Warrenpoint - Tennents Irish Cup Semi Final Ballinamallard's Ryan Campbell celebrates his goal during today's game at Mourneview Park, Lurgan. Photo by David Maginnis/Pacemaker Press
Pacemaker Belfast 30-3-19 Ballinamallard v Warrenpoint - Tennents Irish Cup Semi Final Ballinamallard's Ryan Campbell celebrates his goal during today's game at Mourneview Park, Lurgan. Photo by David Maginnis/Pacemaker Press
Pacemaker Belfast 30-3-19 Ballinamallard v Warrenpoint - Tennents Irish Cup Semi Final Ballinamallard's John Connolly saves a penalty to send his team into the final during today's game at Mourneview Park, Lurgan. Photo by David Maginnis/Pacemaker Press
Pacemaker Belfast 30-3-19 Ballinamallard v Warrenpoint - Tennents Irish Cup Semi Final Warrenpoint's Matthew Lynch sees his penalty saved by Ballinamallard's John Connolly during today's game at Mourneview Park, Lurgan. Photo by David Maginnis/Pacemaker Press
Pacemaker Belfast 30-3-19 Ballinamallard v Warrenpoint - Tennents Irish Cup Semi Final Warrenpoint's Matthew Lynch sees his penalty saved by Ballinamallard's John Connolly during today's game at Mourneview Park, Lurgan. Photo by David Maginnis/Pacemaker Press
Pacemaker Belfast 30-3-19 Ballinamallard v Warrenpoint - Tennents Irish Cup Semi Final Warrenpoint's players wait their turn during the penalty shootout during today's game at Mourneview Park, Lurgan. Photo by David Maginnis/Pacemaker Press
Pacemaker Belfast 30-3-19 Ballinamallard v Warrenpoint - Tennents Irish Cup Semi Final Ballinamallard's players celebrates with Ryan Campbell during today's game at Mourneview Park, Lurgan. Photo by David Maginnis/Pacemaker Press
Pacemaker Belfast 30-3-19 Ballinamallard v Warrenpoint - Tennents Irish Cup Semi Final Ballinamallard's Ryan Campbell celebrates his goal during today's game at Mourneview Park, Lurgan. Photo by David Maginnis/Pacemaker Press
Pacemaker Belfast 30-3-19 Ballinamallard v Warrenpoint - Tennents Irish Cup Semi Final Ballinamallard's Ryan Campbell celebrates his goal during today's game at Mourneview Park, Lurgan. Photo by David Maginnis/Pacemaker Press
Pacemaker Belfast 30-3-19 Ballinamallard v Warrenpoint - Tennents Irish Cup Semi Final Warrenpoint's players are dejected after today's game at Mourneview Park, Lurgan. Photo by David Maginnis/Pacemaker Press
Pacemaker Belfast 30-3-19 Ballinamallard v Warrenpoint - Tennents Irish Cup Semi Final Warrenpoint's players are dejected after today's game at Mourneview Park, Lurgan. Photo by David Maginnis/Pacemaker Press
Pacemaker Belfast 30-3-19 Ballinamallard v Warrenpoint - Tennents Irish Cup Semi Final Warrenpoint's Seanna Foster after today's game at Mourneview Park, Lurgan. Photo by David Maginnis/Pacemaker Press
Pacemaker Belfast 30-3-19 Ballinamallard v Warrenpoint - Tennents Irish Cup Semi Final Ballinamallard's Ryan Campbell scored the winning penalty during today's game at Mourneview Park, Lurgan. Photo by David Maginnis/Pacemaker Press
Pacemaker Belfast 30-3-19 Ballinamallard v Warrenpoint - Tennents Irish Cup Semi Final Ballinamallard's John Connolly was their hero during today's game at Mourneview Park, Lurgan. Photo by David Maginnis/Pacemaker Press
Pacemaker Belfast 30-3-19 Ballinamallard v Warrenpoint - Tennents Irish Cup Semi Final Ballinamallard's manager Harry McConkey celebrates with Duwayne McManus during today's game at Mourneview Park, Lurgan. Photo by David Maginnis/Pacemaker Press
Pacemaker Belfast 30-3-19 Ballinamallard v Warrenpoint - Tennents Irish Cup Semi Final Ballinamallard's manager Harry McConkey celebrates with Duwayne McManus during today's game at Mourneview Park, Lurgan. Photo by David Maginnis/Pacemaker Press
Pacemaker Belfast 30-3-19 Ballinamallard v Warrenpoint - Tennents Irish Cup Semi Final Ballinamallard's manager Harry McConkey during today's game at Mourneview Park, Lurgan. Photo by David Maginnis/Pacemaker Press
Pacemaker Belfast 30-3-19 Ballinamallard v Warrenpoint - Tennents Irish Cup Semi Final Ballinamallard's supporters celebrate during today's game at Mourneview Park, Lurgan. Photo by David Maginnis/Pacemaker Press
Pacemaker Belfast 30-3-19 Ballinamallard v Warrenpoint - Tennents Irish Cup Semi Final Ballinamallard's supporters celebrate during today's game at Mourneview Park, Lurgan. Photo by David Maginnis/Pacemaker Press
Pacemaker Belfast 30-3-19 Ballinamallard v Warrenpoint - Tennents Irish Cup Semi Final Ballinamallard's manager Harry McConkey celebrates his teams victory during today's game at Mourneview Park, Lurgan. Photo by David Maginnis/Pacemaker Press
Pacemaker Belfast 30-3-19 Ballinamallard v Warrenpoint - Tennents Irish Cup Semi Final Ballinamallard's manager Harry McConkey celebrates his teams victory during today's game at Mourneview Park, Lurgan. Photo by David Maginnis/Pacemaker Press
Pacemaker Belfast 30-3-19 Ballinamallard v Warrenpoint - Tennents Irish Cup Semi Final Ballinamallard's supporters celebrate during today's game at Mourneview Park, Lurgan. Photo by David Maginnis/Pacemaker Press
Ballinamallard's Christopher Kelly (right) has put in a leading performance at Mourneview Park. Photo by David Maginnis/Pacemaker Press
Pacemaker Belfast 30-3-19 Ballinamallard v Warrenpoint - Tennents Irish Cup Semi Final Warrenpoint's Ciaran O'Connor and Ballinamallard's Joshua McIlwaine during today's game at Mourneview Park, Lurgan. Photo by David Maginnis/Pacemaker Press
Pacemaker Belfast 30-3-19 Ballinamallard v Warrenpoint - Tennents Irish Cup Semi Final Warrenpoint's manager Stephen McDonnell during today's game at Mourneview Park, Lurgan. Photo by David Maginnis/Pacemaker Press
Pacemaker Belfast 30-3-19 Ballinamallard v Warrenpoint - Tennents Irish Cup Semi Final Warrenpoint's Simon Kelly goes off injured during today's game at Mourneview Park, Lurgan. Photo by David Maginnis/Pacemaker Press
Pacemaker Belfast 30-3-19 Ballinamallard v Warrenpoint - Tennents Irish Cup Semi Final Warrenpoint's Ciaran O'Connor picked up an ankle injury during today's game at Mourneview Park, Lurgan. Photo by David Maginnis/Pacemaker Press
Pacemaker Belfast 30-3-19 Ballinamallard v Warrenpoint - Tennents Irish Cup Semi Final Warrenpoint's Ciaran O'Connor is clattered from behind during today's game at Mourneview Park, Lurgan. Photo by David Maginnis/Pacemaker Press
Pacemaker Belfast 30-3-19 Ballinamallard v Warrenpoint - Tennents Irish Cup Semi Final Ballinamallard's Richard Clarke and Warrenpoint's Ciaran O'Connor during today's game at Mourneview Park, Lurgan. Photo by David Maginnis/Pacemaker Press
Pacemaker Belfast 30-3-19 Ballinamallard v Warrenpoint - Tennents Irish Cup Semi Final Warrenpoint's Ciaran O'Connor and Ballinamallard's Matthew Smyth during today's game at Mourneview Park, Lurgan. Photo by David Maginnis/Pacemaker Press
Pacemaker Belfast 30-3-19 Ballinamallard v Warrenpoint - Tennents Irish Cup Semi Final Ballinamallard's John Connolly saves from Warrenpoint's Ciaran O'Connor during today's game at Mourneview Park, Lurgan. Photo by David Maginnis/Pacemaker Press
Pacemaker Belfast 30-3-19 Ballinamallard v Warrenpoint - Tennents Irish Cup Semi Final Ballinamallard's John Connolly saves from Warrenpoint's Ciaran O'Connor during today's game at Mourneview Park, Lurgan. Photo by David Maginnis/Pacemaker Press
Pacemaker Belfast 30-3-19 Ballinamallard v Warrenpoint - Tennents Irish Cup Semi Final Ballinamallard's John Connolly claims the ball from a corner during today's game at Mourneview Park, Lurgan. Photo by David Maginnis/Pacemaker Press
Pacemaker Belfast 30-3-19 Ballinamallard v Warrenpoint - Tennents Irish Cup Semi Final Warrenpoint's Ciaran O'Connor and Ballinamallard's Richard Clarke during today's game at Mourneview Park, Lurgan. Photo by David Maginnis/Pacemaker Press
Pacemaker Belfast 30-3-19 Ballinamallard v Warrenpoint - Tennents Irish Cup Semi Final Ballinamallard's Sean McEvoy and Warrenpoint's Hermany Marques during today's game at Mourneview Park, Lurgan. Photo by David Maginnis/Pacemaker Press
Pacemaker Belfast 30-3-19 Ballinamallard v Warrenpoint - Tennents Irish Cup Semi Final Warrenpoint's Seanna Foster and Ballinamallard's Christopher Kelly during today's game at Mourneview Park, Lurgan. Photo by David Maginnis/Pacemaker Press
Pacemaker Belfast 30-3-19 Ballinamallard v Warrenpoint - Tennents Irish Cup Semi Final Ballinamallard's Sean McEvoy and Warrenpoint's Matthew Lynch during today's game at Mourneview Park, Lurgan. Photo by David Maginnis/Pacemaker Press
Ballinamallard's Joshua McIlwaine (left) and Warrenpoint's Seanna Foster battle for the ball (David Maginnis/Pacemaker)
Pacemaker Belfast 30-3-19 Ballinamallard v Warrenpoint - Tennents Irish Cup Semi Final Ballinamallard's and Warrenpoint's players during today's game at Mourneview Park, Lurgan. Photo by David Maginnis/Pacemaker Press
Pacemaker Belfast 30-3-19 Ballinamallard v Warrenpoint - Tennents Irish Cup Semi Final Ballinamallard's Richard Clarke during today's game at Mourneview Park, Lurgan. Photo by David Maginnis/Pacemaker Press
Pacemaker Belfast 30-3-19 Ballinamallard v Warrenpoint - Tennents Irish Cup Semi Final Ballinamallard's Joshua McIlwaine Warrenpoint's Matthew Lynch during today's game at Mourneview Park, Lurgan. Photo by David Maginnis/Pacemaker Press
Pacemaker Belfast 30-3-19 Ballinamallard v Warrenpoint - Tennents Irish Cup Semi Final Warrenpoint's Lee Duffy and Ballinamallard's Christopher Kelly during today's game at Mourneview Park, Lurgan. Photo by David Maginnis/Pacemaker Press

Championship side Ballinamallard will play in the Irish Cup final after beating Warrenpoint on penalties at Mourneview Park.

The Fermanagh team held their nerve to win 5-4 on penalties after a 0-0 stalemate with Warrenpoint Town at Mourneview Park on Saturday afternoon.

Captain Richard Clarke won the Irish Cup with Glentoran in 2013 but admits that walking out of the tunnel at Windsor Park on May 4 with the Ballinamallard badge on his chest will be something a little different.

"It definitely is different and special, especially when you're a Championship team and you don't expect these teams," he said. "I'm really looking forward to leading the team out with by two sons.

"It's just surreal. Even mentioning that in a sentence; Ballinamallard in an Irish Cup final. It's amazing for the fans and it's been such a big big boost for us after a tough start to the season.

How does he feel to captain Ballinamallard United FC to the Irish Cup final? Richard Clarke is on cloud nine! 🙌🏼

Posted by Belfast Telegraph Sport on Saturday, March 30, 2019

"(The fans) are so important to us. They stuck by us through hard times and we've repaid them by giving them that special day out.

"I've been fortunate enough to be at an Irish Cup final. They'll enjoy it and we'll enjoy it as well."

Ballinamallard dominated the first half thanks to Clarke and his Man of the Match midfield team-mate Chris Kelly, but couldn't force much in the way of goal-scoring chances as Kelly's long range shot was tipped over at the end of the most threatening attack.

They put together the move of the match at the end of normal time but Josh McIlwaine couldn't turn home Nathan Cashel's cross under pressure from the defence. Cashel himself went closest to winning it in extra-time but again the defence did enough to deny after Ryan Campbell's volley had been well saved.

That proved only to delay Campbell's ascent into heroism as the striker smashed home the winning penalty kick.

So how were the skipper's nerves holding up as he converted the opening spot-kick?

"They weren't great to be honest," Clarke smiled. "I knew the goalkeeper knew my spot but I spoke to Steve Feeney during the week and he saaid if you're confident at that side, stick to it and I did. I didn't want to change my mind at this stage.

"I don't think there was much between the two teams. It was nip and tuck and I think both teams settled for penalties. Thankfully we've come out worthy winners at the end."

"Our fans have come out in their droves today and I've no doubt the fun and games will start now.

"We're a small village with small finances. Going down last year was a big blow but hopefully we're going the right direction. We've got a lot of young lads with promising futures ahead and I think if we stick to that local identity, we'll not be too far away in a couple of years."

So could they win it?

"We've been written off in the last couple of games," he said. "You have to go there believing you can win and there's no doubt we will do that."

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