Belfast Telegraph

David Jeffrey hails 'quality' Andy McGrory after derby hat-trick

Coleraine 0 Ballymena Utd 4

Three and easy: Hat-trick hero Andy McGrory
Three and easy: Hat-trick hero Andy McGrory
Three and easy: Hat-trick hero Andy McGrory is mobbed by Ballymena teammates Ryan Mayse and Adam Lecky

By Steve Jones

David Jeffrey insisted Ballymena United's performance against Coleraine gave him more satisfaction than the result at The Showgrounds.

His title-chasing Sky Blues annihilated their 10-man hosts courtesy of Andy McGrory's hat-trick and a controversial effort from Adam Lecky.

"Andy McGrory deserves a special mention because he's such a quality footballer, he's just a quality young man," said boss David Jeffrey.

"We were fortunate to bring him to our club, he just wanted to play a bit more regularly. He's a consummate professional.

"He epitomised all that was good about our performance."

United were smashed 3-0 by Crusaders is the previous weekend's Irish Cup quarter-final tie. Coming so soon after that disappointment, this was an afternoon that pleased Jeffrey all the more.

"I asked a few people if Ballymena had ever won 4-0 down here before, and no one has been able to tell me," he added.

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"While the scoreline is very pleasing, to be honest I wanted the performance and then I wanted the result.

"We were coming off the back of a disappointing result at Crusaders last week.

"I thought that was one game too many for us in that run of games. The conditions were horrendous in the first half.

"Coleraine played with the wind and pummelled us early on. People will talk about the 4-0 but no one will talk about the phenomenal save Ross Glendinning pulled off in the first minute.

"We were able to build on that. I said to the players at the break that while we were 2-0 in front and Coleraine were down to 10 men, there's a great spirit about them.

"You only have to look at the response against Larne last week.

"I really thought we needed that third goal and Andy McGrory popped up with it. Overall we had some outstanding performances."

The Bannsiders were reduced to 10 men for the fourth successive derby meeting as defender Gareth McConaghie was given his marching orders for bringing down Johnny McMurray on 19 minutes.

The Sky Blues made their numerical advantage count on the half-hour mark as McGrory headed home on the second attempt and doubled their lead in dubious circumstances on 36 minutes when Lecky's header was clawed away by Chris Johns, but the officials ruled that the ball had already crossed the line.

McGrory completed his hat-trick after the break as he swept home from McMurray's knock down on 49 minutes, before tapping home on 88 minutes after Johns denied substitute Ryan Mayse.

Coleraine manager Rodney McAree admitted McConaghie's early dismissal had a massive part to play in the defeat.

"It is a tough one to take but the sending off killed us," he said.

"I have had a look at the second goal and it is very hard to see where the ball is but when you look at Chris Johns' starting position, his feet and the save it is hard to tell whether the ball was over the line.

"It was an uphill battle from that point on."

Coleraine: Johns, Mullan, Lowry, Bradley, Carson, McConaghie, Burns (King, 19 mins), O'Donnell, Parkhill, McGonigle (McLaughlin, 64 mins), B Doherty. Unused subs: M Doherty, McLaughlin, Burke, Davidson, Glackin, Shiels.

Ballymena: Ross Glendinning, Quigley, Whiteside, McCullough, McGrory, Balmer, Ervin, Lecky, Millar, McMurray (Mayse, 78 mins), Watson. Unused subs: Williamson, Kane, Addis, McGinty, Burns, Shevlin.

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