Belfast Telegraph

Kris Lindsay is the Solskjaer of the Swifts, says Ballinamallard boss ahead of Irish Cup quarter-final

Tough task: Kris Lindsay has done a great job with the Swifts, according to Ballinamallard boss Harry McConkey
Tough task: Kris Lindsay has done a great job with the Swifts, according to Ballinamallard boss Harry McConkey

By Steven Beacom

Ballinamallard United boss Harry McConkey believes he will be facing the Irish League version of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer tomorrow when the Fermanagh men meet Dungannon Swifts in the Irish Cup quarter-finals.

McConkey has been hugely impressed by the impact that Swifts supremo Kris Lindsay has had at the Tyrone club since taking charge in September after Rodney McAree moved on to Coleraine, even likening him to Manchester United's caretaker manager who has worked wonders as Jose Mourinho's successor.

Lindsay has steered Swifts away from relegation worries and is aiming for a seventh place finish in the league which would earn them a spot in the European play-offs.

He has also guided Dungannon to the last eight of the Irish Cup and they are big favourites to progress further with a home tie against Championship outfit Ballinamallard at the weekend.

McConkey, first team coach at Stangmore Park when Dungannon reached the Irish Cup final in 2007, says: "Dungannon are one of the form teams in the Irish Premiership and Kris Lindsay has done a magnificent job since becoming manager there. He's been like Ole Gunnar Solskjaer for Dungannon.

"The reality is it will take a mammoth effort from us to produce what would be one of the shocks of the season."

McConkey is well capable of inspiring one of those.

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He was close to pulling off a miracle last season by almost keeping Ballinamallard in the top flight after taking over near the end of the campaign.

And this term, after a difficult start bedding new faces in, McConkey guided the Ferney Park side into the top six in the Championship.

"Since I came through the door on March 15 every single game has been like a Cup final," states McConkey, Northern Ireland's junior international boss.

"There has been so much at stake and loaded on each match.

"When I came in we needed something out of every game in a bid to keep the club alive in the Premiership, and this season it has been the same thing, trying to protect the status of the club.

"We have got ourselves into the top six of the Championship and we are in the last eight of the Irish Cup and will go into the game with a positive attitude because when I was signing players in the summer and trying to convince them to join us, these were the games I talked about.

"I said we would be playing the likes of Larne and Portadown in the Championship and that we could get a run in the cup and play top flight opposition, which would be good for the development of the players.

"At least I'm being true to my word. We've had some epic battles already this season.

"We have beaten Larne, who are on their way to the Premiership, we have beaten Carrick who are going strong, and now we have this big cup tie.

"There has always been a healthy relationship between the clubs.

"As an international manager I have used the facilities regularly and Joe McAree at Dungannon could never do enough for me.

"In the past I consulted Rodney, when he was manager, about players and equally he would have consulted me.

"We played in pre-season and it is a relationship I would be keen to develop.

"We are quite close geographically and from that sense there will be genuine, sincere handshakes afterwards.

"I'm sure both clubs will wish the other one, whoever wins, to go as far as they can in the competition."

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