Belfast Telegraph

Larne have to be commended, says Ballymena boss ahead of Irish Cup clash

By Billy Weir

Ballymena United manager David Jeffrey would love nothing more than to silence the noisy neighbours this evening.

Larne come to Warden Street for the re-arranged Tennent’s Irish Cup quarter-final clash on the crest of a wave.

The big-spending Championship side are on a 14-match unbeaten run and while they have to content themselves with at least one more season in the second tier, they would love nothing more than to claim the scalp of their Premiership foes from over Shane’s Hill.

And Jeffrey knows that all too well, having made the daily drive to work in the seaside town past a huge sign advertising the game — just one part of the mightily impressive new approach being adopted by the Inver Park club under backer Kenny Bruce and chairman Gareth Clements.

“There’s been an awful lot of hype — much of it created by Larne themselves, it’s got to be said — and that’s good for the town,” said Jeffrey, whose own plans are far from as smooth with an injury list that would have Holby City in meltdown.

“Obviously I work in the town as a senior social worker and played for Larne, and they were the ones who gave me my chance in the management side of things.

“When we know what we have available we will then go about our preparations. It’s a game which absolutely no doubt Larne think they can win and in cup football you only have to look at Manchester City this year in their game against Wigan.

“Let’s be very clear, they are a Championship side, but when a player like David McDaid turns down Linfield to go to Larne, Thomas Stewart could have been playing at Linfield and the lad (Shane) McEleney could have gone to full-time football in Scotland, that’s the calibre of players they have.

“And they have got to be respected and commended for attracting those players. But we never really think too much about others, we’ll look to prepare ourselves the best we can.”

Belfast Telegraph

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