Belfast Telegraph

We're only focused on winning, insists McManus

 

Duwayne McManus
Duwayne McManus

By Steven Beacom

Ballinamallard United star Duwayne McManus insists that the Fermanagh club are not going to Windsor Park on Saturday for a 'nice day out' and are intent on winning the Irish Cup.

The classy midfielder readily admits that the Mighty Ducks will be massive underdogs against a top drawer Crusaders team but says that Harry McConkey's outfit are determined to hold their own.

"Everyone knows the quality that Crusaders possess," says McManus. "They are one of the best teams in the country with quality players all over the pitch and could probably field two strong sides in the final.

"We aren't just going there for the occasion and to make up the numbers and think it is a nice day out. We are going there to try and win the game. That has to be our attitude.

"It would be an incredible achievement if we did win it and it would be the best feeling in the world."

Unlike many of the Ballinamallard players, McManus has previous experience of an Irish Cup final. The 32-year-old was a young man back in 2007 when he and Niall McGinn were informed they wouldn't be in Dungannon Swifts' squad for the decider versus Linfield.

The Blues won on penalties as McManus and McGinn watched from the stands.

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"After coming through the ranks at Ballinamallard and playing for the first team at 16 in Harry's first spell as manager, I went to Dungannon just before my 19th birthday," recalls McManus.

"I spent three seasons there and played in Europe after we finished in the top four under Joe McAree.

"In that time we also reached an Irish Cup final. I remember me and Niall McGinn, who has had such a great career, were left out of the squad.

"We were too young and called aside that day to be told the news. We had played through the competition and it was tough to take but it was also a great experience to be at that final against Linfield."

The man who started his career at Enniskillen Rangers aged 11 adds: "Now Ballinamallard are in the final which is unbelievable. The build-up has been amazing and it's exciting for a small place like Ballinamallard and for the whole county. Everyone is behind us."

Well aware that victory for the Mallards would be one of the biggest shocks in history, McManus concludes: "I was captain of the Ballinamallard team under Whitey Anderson when we won the Irish Youth Cup.

"That was a big shock. We defeated a very good St Oliver Plunkett side in the final but no one expected us to get there because we played Linfield and Glenavon on the way.

"So shocks can happen. We have to hope and believe there can be one on Saturday."

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