Belfast Telegraph

Larne showdown is a fairytale for us, says relieved boss Jeffrey

Ballymena United 2-2 Ballinamallard United (Ballymena win 4-3 on penalties)

By Billy Weir

Ballymena United boss David Jeffrey is looking forward to a 'fairytale' clash with Larne in next month's Tennent's Irish Cup quarter-final.

However things were looking more than a little grim for the Sky Blues' boss on Saturday as Ballinamallard United raced into a 2-0 lead thanks to fabulous goals from Stephen O'Flynn and Shane McGinty.

However a goal before the break from Johnny McMurray and an equaliser two minutes from time meant extra-time, and, ultimatley, the dreaded penalty shoot-out.

Kyle Owens' effort was saved by Richard Brush, the only blemish in the Sky Blues' efforts, but crucially McGinty dragged his effort wide meaning that when Ryan O'Reilly's effort smacked off the crossbar, it was the Braidmen who progressed.

"It's sort of fairytale stuff in that it's Larne," revealed Jeffrey, whose side are at home to the Invermen on March 3.

"It's going to be tough, there's absolutely no doubt about that. You only need to look at the players they have brought in, they are a Premiership side, there's no point in saying anything else."

As for Ballinamallard the defeat could be a blessing in disguise, with their main aim no avoiding relegation, starting with a trip to Glentoran tomorrow.

"Once it goes to penalty kicks it's a lottery so we'll dust ourselves down and we go again on Tuesday," he said.

BALLYMENA: Glendinning, Ervin, McCullough, Friars (Owens, 46 mins), Balmer, Kane, Shevlin (McCloskey, 70 mins), McKinney (Faulkner, 42 mins), Friel, McMurray, Braniff. Unused subs: McDermott, Flynn, Weir, McCaffrey.

Ballinamallard: Brush, Kerr, McLoughlin, Mailey, O'Reilly, McGinty, Clarke, Kee, McCartney (Curran, 66 mins), O'Flynn (McIlwaine, 84 mins), Noble 7 (Armstrong, 75 mins). Unused subs: Leddy, Taheny, Hutchinson, Brownlee.

Referee: Raymond Crangle (Belfast)

Man of the match: Johnny McMurray

Match rating: 7/10

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