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My Sky Blues were fired up to avoid an upset reveals proud Jeffrey

Ballinamallard United 0 Ballymena United 2


Breakthrough: Joshua Kelly wheels away after his goal

Breakthrough: Joshua Kelly wheels away after his goal

�INPHO/Brian Little

Taking heart: David Jeffrey saluted his side’s application

Taking heart: David Jeffrey saluted his side’s application

�INPHO/Brian Little

Breakthrough: Joshua Kelly wheels away after his goal

Ballymena United manager David Jeffrey was delighted with the commitment and effort of his players as they secured their place in the semi-final of the Sadler's Peaky Blinder Irish Cup with a 2-0 win at Ballinamallard United.

Jeffrey's charges were on the back foot for long periods of the game but they stood firm under pressure and goals from Joshua Kelly after 17 minutes and a second half Tony Kane penalty sealed the victory.

"I'm very proud of the players," said Jeffrey.

"I thought Ballinamallard were excellent and I knew they would be, they really passed the ball about very well on what was a difficult day but, in terms of our own players, I thought they were first class.

"There was a lot of people who thought this was not going to be our day but we just asked the players to believe in themselves, to work as hard as they could, to be totally committed and to fight for everything and the goals in many ways epitomised that.

"The first goal was a fantastic run by Cathair Friel and a great ball into the box and young Josh Kelly scored a great goal.

"For the second, Adam Lecky showed great determination to get into the box and commit defenders and there was no doubt it was penalty."

The difference on the day was that the visitors were able to make the most of their chances, which was something that Jeffrey himself acknowledged afterwards.

"It was a game that ebbed and flowed and at times we were on top and at times they were on top and it is the old adage that when you are on top you have to make sure that you capitalise and on the occasions that we were in ascendancy we took our chances," he explained.

"When Ballinamallard were on top that's when you have to really defend, even if it is desperate defending, we did that also."

Ballymena have little time to rest on their laurels with a Premiership clash with Dungannon Swifts on the horizon tomorrow night and Jeffrey expects to be missing a number of players for the game.

"Our minds must go very quickly to a tough league game on Tuesday night against Dungannon," he added.

"We must refocus and refocus quickly.

"Leroy Millar is very poorly with the flu and Jude Winchester had to come off as he was poorly also.

"We have a number of players who won't be available for us on Tuesday evening but we'll go and do our best with those who are available."

Ballinamallard manager Harry McConkey, who led them to last season's Irish Cup final, was pleased with his side's display.

"I am very proud of the players, the performance was excellent in difficult conditions," he said.

"We bossed the ball for much of the game but we didn't finish off our good work at times and that's the only thing we could be guilty of although it would be very harsh of me to be hard on the players."

It is promotion from the Championship, though, that remains the priority for the Ducks as they look to continue their promotion push and he feels that games like Saturday's whet the players' appetite to test themselves against the best teams.

"What I said to them in there was that's the joy of wanting to get to a higher level," added McConkey.

"Better teams bring out the best in us and I think we have nothing to be scared of if we did reach that level. That has to be our goal. It is going to be a real good race from here on in."

BALLINAMALLARD: Connolly, McEvoy (McBrien, 70 mins), McCann, Clarke, Arkinson (Hannon, 83 mins), Campbell, Kelly, Edgar (McIlwaine, 78 mins), Cashel, O'Reilly, Morris.

BALLYMENA: Ross Glendinning, T Kane, Addis, Whiteside, Friel, Knowles, McCullough, Winchester (Balmer, 59 mins), Lecky, Reece Glendinning, Kelly.

Referee: Keith Kennedy (Lisburn)

Man of the match: Joshua Kelly

Match rating: 7/10

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