Belfast Telegraph

Jeffrey so proud as Ballymena secure £200,000 Euro bonanza

 

Johnny McMurray
Johnny McMurray

By Graham Luney

David Jeffrey saluted his Ballymena United heroes last night after they secured a top two finish in the Danske Bank Premiership for only the third time in the club's history.

The Sky Blues' thrilling 4-3 victory at home to Glenavon means the Braidmen are guaranteed a Europa League place, worth at least £200,000, without having to negotiate the end of season play-offs.

It is the club's highest top-flight finish since they were runners-up in the 1979/80 campaign and their only other top two finish was back in 1939.

Andy McGrory, Johnny McMurray, Adam Lecky and substitute Shane McGinty were on target for the hosts with Seamus Sharkey, James Singleton and Andrew Mitchell replying for the visitors.

"Life here is a rollercoaster," admitted United boss David Jeffrey.

"I don't think anyone could say we didn't deserve it. I'm so very proud of the players who had already created history by securing a top three place. To go on and finish second is a huge achievement.

"We had to dig deep and I knew Glenavon would be highly motivated but we have secured European football which is nice.

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"The play -offs are an exciting end to the season, we have been there before and we wish the other clubs well but I am very relieved we have qualified for Europe."

In the battle for top flight survival, Newry City lost significant ground when they were defeated 2-1 at Institute.

Ards won 1-0 at home to Dungannon Swifts, meaning City will go into the final day three points behind one-from-bottom Ards.

"I'm delighted with the clean sheet," said Ards boss Warren Feeney.

"The defence was fantastic and I want another win on Saturday to secure our future in this league."

Champions Linfield hammered Cliftonville 5-1 at Windsor Park while Coleraine beat Crusaders 4-2 and Glentoran were held to a 2-2 draw by Warrenpoint at the Oval.

FULL REPORTS: Pages 46-47

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