Belfast Telegraph

To lift Gibson Cup with three different sides is special, says Sean Ward

 

By Billy Weir

Sean Ward had the look of a man on Saturday tea-time who didn't know whether to laugh, cry or look for a prolonged spell in a darkened room!

The experienced defender raised a few eyebrows when he left Linfield to join Crusaders but lived up to his word that he was going to add more medals to his already impressive haul.

And thanks to his side's nerve-wracking 2-1 win over Ballymena United to clinch the title, the 34-year-old has joined a very select band of players who have won the Gibson Cup with three teams.

While it was a wonderfully exciting finish, Ward is in no doubt that the team in red and black deserved to hit the jackpot.

"Where we've been over the last few weeks is probably the most emotionally tense I've ever been," he said with a puff of his cheeks.

"The team who finished top of the league is the best team in the league, and Coleraine have been absolutely superb and they still have a lot to play for, but everybody wanted Coleraine to win the league and that drove us on.

"It has been a superb league campaign and I am emotionally drained, it's superb for the domestic game and I am totally overwhelmed."

As for his own little piece of medal-winning history, he was typically modest.

"I was made aware of it a number of months ago and I haven't really spoken about it because you don't want to tempt fate," he explained.

"But it's a small group I belong to and I've been very lucky to play for some great clubs, three Belfast clubs.

"The boys have been outstanding, we're all winners. It started off in June with a great European campaign where we were very unlucky not to progress, and it's come this far and honestly you have no idea how delighted I am."

But they were made to fight all the way, not just by Coleraine but a plucky Ballymena side who threatened to ruin the dream when they took the lead with an hour gone at the Showgrounds.

As things stood, with Coleraine drawing at Glenavon, it would have handed the title to the Bannsiders, but goals from Phillip Lowry and David Cushley ensured that the trophy returned to Seaview after last year's bitter disappointment of losing it to Linfield.

"In the past number of weeks, we've been creating loads and loads of chances and unfortunately we haven't won games," added Ward, who played in that Blues team last season.

"I thought in the first half we were a bit nervy, and maybe going one down was the kick up the backside we needed, even though we completely dominated the game from start to finish.

"We were getting the ball forward too quickly and relying on Big Chicken's (Jordan Owens) aerial threat and it wasn't really working for us, so it was just about being a bit more patient.

"Ballymena were superb, you couldn't count on both hands the number of last-ditch blocks they had. They were magnificent, it looked like they were going for a league championship, it was incredible."

Perhaps if they signed the talismanic Ward the title would come to Warden Street, but a fourth title with a different team may be stretching things just too far.

Belfast Telegraph

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