Belfast Telegraph

Packed Inver Park for Ballymena's win over Larne was a positive sign for Irish League: Jeffrey

Larne 2 Ballymena United 4

Praise: Ballymena United manager David Jeffrey
Praise: Ballymena United manager David Jeffrey

By Ian Cahoon

Despite leaving Larne with three points on Saturday, David Jeffrey insisted it was a good day for top flight football, not just Ballymena United.

The Sky Blues were 4-2 winners thanks to a combination of a game-plan which was spot on and some spectacular finishing against a previously unbeaten home side.

A bumper crowd of around 2,000 packed into Inver Park and Jeffrey, who began his coaching career at the venue just over 20 years ago, was delighted to see it.

"I was blessed way back in the mid-90s to be here for a period under the late, great Shay Hamill," he said.

"I was player-assistant manager at that stage, with various bits and pieces since then when they were absolutely struggling financially.

"It is great to see for the whole town, the whole community. It was fantastic to see a Larne-Ballymena game produce such entertainment and such a big crowd. On this occasion, it has been our day, but it was also been a great day for Irish League football."

Jonny Addis got the goalscoring under way, unleashing a half volley from inside his own half, on six minutes.

Larne levelled when Mark Randall got on the end of Davy McDaid's assist - a move which totalled 20 passes - to slot home.

Their joy was short-lived, however, as United retook the lead through Andy McGrory.

Tremendous strikes from Cathair Friel and Jude Winchester extended United's advantage to 4-1 ahead of ex-Ballymena ace Johnny McMurray pulling one back for Larne.

Home boss Tiernan Lynch had no complaints after the match.

"Every game is one we have to learn from, whether we win or whether we lose," Lynch said.

"It's easy to pat people on the back and give them hugs and kisses, when you're winning.

"You can't then get on their case when things don't happen or people don't play to the level they're capable of.

"We just have to work harder. I know a lot of people were getting carried away the opening results, but we knew if we were going to achieve anything this season we'd have to roll our sleeves up and fight for it - and that's what we're prepared to do."

LARNE: Devlin, Kelly, Watson, McEleney, Sule, Randall, McDaid, Donnelly (McMurray, 56 mins), Tilney (Graham, 73 mins), Cosgrove, Hughes (Lynch, 56 mins). Unused subs: Mitchell, Ramsey, Stewart, Hassin.

Ballymena: Ross Glendinning, Addis, Harper, Friel, McCullough, Burns (Balmer, 46 mins), Carville, McGrory, Winchester (McGinty, 75 mins), Ervin, Millar. Unused subs: Williamson, Kane, Mayse, Kelly, Lavery

Referee: Lee Tavinder (Dungannon)

Man of the Match: Jonny Addis

Match Rating: 8/10

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