Glenn Ferguson challenges Ballymena United to play like champions
Glenn Ferguson wants his Ballymena United players to treat the first game in their defence of the County Antrim Shield as if its the final.
The Sky Blues' 23-year trophy famine came to an end when they beat Linfield to lift the Shield last year and Ferguson's eyes are firmly set on retaining the trophy.
Donegal Celtic stand between Ballymena and a semi-final place and although they have only won once in the Championship so far this season, Ferguson is wary that his team has found the going tough against teams from lower down the football pyramid.
"It's a while since Ballymena United entered a competition as the holders. There's a semi-final place at stake and when you get to the last four of any tournament then anything can happen," said Ferguson.
"We beat Donegal Celtic on our way to winning it last year, so this could be the start of something again, but our attitude has to be right.
"We have struggled against the so-called lesser teams in cup competitions. We needed penalties to beat Ballymoney in the League Cup and DC will be coming with nothing to lose."
Meanwhile, Crusaders assistant manager Jeff Spiers is urging the club's players to crave Shield success so that they are left with no regrets when they finish their careers.
The former Linfield centre-half won everything on offer during his time at Windsor Park – other than the Shield – and he fears that not taking the competition seriously could lead to disappointment.
"It's another trophy and one that we want to win," said Spiers.
"We want to win trophies, players want to win medals and I never won a bad medal in my career.
"It's the only medal that I never won as a player and I keep telling the players that.
"I played so many games, but never won that medal and it still hurts me."
e NORTHERN Ireland women's under-19s lost 2-1 to Ukraine in their European Championship qualifying series in Riga.
Moya Feehan equalised from the penalty spot on 20 minutes, but Ukraine struck 17 minutes from time to win the game.
After losing 3-1 to Switzerland on Saturday the result renders Thursday's final group game against hosts Latvia academic.