Cathair Friel hails Adam Lecky arrival as key to Braid success
Hotshot Cathair Friel believes Ballymena United boss David Jeffrey pulled off a masterstroke by bringing beanpole striker Adam Lecky to the Warden Street Showgrounds.
The Braidmen are currently on a remarkable unbeaten run dating back to September, with both Friel and Lecky pivotal in a side that has already indicated they are in the Danske Bank Premiership title race for the long haul.
They took their trophy challenge a step further in midweek by defeating Crusaders to claim a place against Linfield in February's League Cup final.
And, in fact have the chance to nick a slot in the County Antrim Shield decider when they come up against Stephen Baxter's team on Tuesday.
Jeffrey's troops are now 16 games unbeaten, notching up a club record 11 wins in a row - little wonder the fans are flocking back to Warden Street.
Friel feels Lecky has helped bring a new dimension to Ballymena United.
"Big Lecky's first touch, I don't know if I've seen a better one in the Irish League," he said.
"We're starting to play off each other and I think it's working well - he gives us something different.
"We know when Adam gets the ball it sticks, and it give the midfield boys the chance to get forward. He's good both in the air and on the ground. He's certainly helped me.
"I've 10 goals and I probably should have a lot more. I'm happy with 10, but I need to keep plugging away at the goals."
Friel has scored an impressive 50 goals in 110 appearances.
"My first objective when I came here was to get in the team, never mind scoring goals," he added. "Playing with the quality of player around me, it's going to help me score goals.
"Confidence is the main thing for us and the confidence David (Jeffrey) gives us is scary.
"He backs players and it makes you want to go out and play hard for him.
"I always said when I first came to Ballymena, I didn't know what way to take him. I thought he was maybe this big character that would go mad, but that's not the case at all.
"To be fair, he's one of the boys and treats you just like a son. He's been very, very good to me and I love playing for him.
"We have been beating the likes of the Crues and Linfield this season - maybe last season we didn't have the confidence against the big teams.
"We've beaten all the big sides in recent weeks and that breeds confidence."
United will aim retain their place at the top of the table when Paddy McLaughlin brings his improving Institute side to the Showgrounds today.
"It'll be a tough game," adds Friel. "It's one game at a time. That's David's mantra and that's what we'll be doing. If we do that, we'll be alright."