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Ervin wants perfect script in yet another final chapter

By Graham Luney

Ballymena United skipper Jim Ervin says he's loving the good times at Ballymena United and another League Cup success would be the icing on the cake for him.

Former Linfield favourite Ervin is no stranger to big finals but those who thought his days of winning silverware after leaving the Blues were gone got it badly wrong.

The Belfast man may be wearing a different shade of blue but his thirst for success and high professionalism has never diminished.

In many ways he's one of the most obvious captains in the Irish League as his attitude to the game mirrors that of his charismatic boss, David Jeffrey.

The 32-year-old lifted the League Cup last season and he's hoping for a repeat performance tonight at Windsor Park but Dungannon Swifts are out to gatecrash his party.

"It still feels like my first couple of finals," says Ervin.

"Ask any player, it's the pinnacle of your career, you want to play in Cup finals. That doesn't change whether it's your first, tenth or 11th.

"I don't know how many finals I've played in, my dad might be able to tell you.

"When you're at Linfield, regardless of who you are playing you are expected to get to a final and win.

"It's incredible the whole buzz the town of Ballymena feels, everyone comes together and it's a great day for the club.

"We approach the game like any other and give the opponents the respect they deserve. We will prepare our best and be fully focused. Once we get over the white line it's down to the players on the pitch.

"Our objectives at the start of the season were to retain the League Cup trophy and try to progress in the other Cup competitions, while building on European qualification and climbing up the league table.

"Bryan (McLoughlin) and Davy (Jeffrey) have tried to get that consistency level whether it is league or Cup games because Ballymena have lacked that for years.

"Reaching the final again this season shows we are capable of doing that."

In recent years United have landed quite a few blows in knockout competitions and qualification for Europe last season was another major lift.

"The arrival of David and Bryan and the success the club has enjoyed has brought many more people into the Showgrounds," added Ervin.

"The bigger games you play in, there's more interest and we want those fans to return every week.

"What we find is the young boys and girls are there for the future and with the younger fans coming in it augurs well for the future of the club.

"The more Cup finals you get to, the more interest and excitement is generated and we want the atmosphere at the club to keep improving."

The semi-final against Cliftonville was postponed three times and wasn't settled until last weekend.

"Sometimes when you have a semi-final played in advance, it can seem a long time for the final to come around," added Ervin.

"I think it has worked well as we don't have much time to sit down and think things through. Rodney's guys had a few games in the run-up to the final and we haven't had much time to think about it.

"To play the final a week later is probably perfect for us."

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