Belfast Telegraph

Dungannon were superb but Ballymena let ourselves down a bucketful: Ervin

By Graham Luney

Ballymena United players had no complaints about the result at Windsor Park - only the manner in which they fell short.

There was no escaping the honest, painful assessment in their dressing room that they had no answer to the Swifts' powerful performance.

Skipper Jim Ervin was quick to hold his hands up and admit their opponents were - if not hungrier - certainly more ruthless.

"On the day you just have to hold your hands up and say you were beaten by the better team,"admitted the former Linfield favourite.

"All over the park, I thought Dungannon were superb.

"For whatever reason, we have let ourselves down a bucketful because we didn't perform whatsoever.

"Even at 1-1 I don't think there was a period the game when we are really on top. Dungannon got the opening goal and that maybe settled their nerves a bit better and they fully deserved it.

"We know all too well the sort of buzz this is going to give the town in the next amount of weeks but for us it is so disappointing.

"What makes it worse for us is that if you play well and are beaten then fair enough, but that's out second final this season and we haven't played well in either of them at all.

"At least against the Crues we gave it a go and played well in the second half that night but we were poor from start to finish on Saturday.

"I don't know what that is because we have plenty of experience but sometimes the opposition are just better than you and you can't do anything about that.

"You can't afford to carry any passengers in a cup final and unfortunately I would say we had 10 passengers - myself included.

United boss David Jeffrey wasn't prepared to break his habit of not slamming his players in public.

There was no real need to as they are intelligent enough to know they have not delivered in a second consecutive major final.

This will hurt more than the County Antrim Shield Final defeat to Crusaders as this time it was widely believed they had more potential matchwinners in their squad.

"Dungannon were quicker, better and passed the ball more incisively," admitted Jeffrey.

"I said before the game it would be whichever side turned up on the day and Dungannon were the better side.

"I'm delighted for Rodney (McAree) but bitterly disappointed for our supporters because we didn't perform as well as we could.

"Sincere congratulations to Dungannon. We had enforced changes with Steven McCullough's suspension and Kevin Braniff's injury but Dungannon were the better side and moved the ball quicker and better.

"They were more incisive. My players were busting their guts to win this game and they are gutted. I'm really disappointed for them because they know they didn't reach the standards they are capable of."

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