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Going to final my proudest moment: Currie


Happy man: Niall Currie was delighted with the result

Happy man: Niall Currie was delighted with the result

©Matt Mackey - Presseye.com

Happy man: Niall Currie was delighted with the result

Ards manager Niall Currie has hailed Tuesday night's dramatic JBE League Cup semi-final win as the highlight of his career.

With less than 25 minutes left on the clock, Ards found themselves 2-0 down to Premiership club Coleraine. Remarkably, two late Danny McKee goals took the game to extra-time before Ards claimed a nail-biting 5-3 shoot-out win.

The Red & Blues now have a date with Cliftonville in the final on Valentines weekend to look forward too.

Although Currie has won the Championship title three times as a manager and lifted numerous Intermediate trophies, he sees Tuesday's dramatic senior semi-final win as the pinnacle of his career.

"This is my proudest moment," said an ecstatic Currie.

"I've won everything there is to win at Championship level, but to take Ards to a senior final against all the odds, is a dream come to true.

"It's a huge thing for this club and it's a huge thing for me, but I think the players deserve all the credit.

"The character they showed to come back and win from 2-0 down with less than half an hour to play will live with me for a long time.

"It's those players that deserve all the plaudits."

Those players are a mix of seasoned Irish League pros, Championship journeymen and loyal Ards servants, who will relish the opportunity to take on Cliftonville in front of the television cameras.

Manager Currie believes the club's long-suffering fans will also be excited to see their team in their first senior cup final since 2004.

"I'm delighted for our supporters. They were wonderful on Tuesday night.

"Coleraine had a massive support behind the right-side of the goal, so just before the shoot-out I signalled for our fans to move from the main stand at Bangor, into the terracing on the left-side of the goal.

"Sure enough, a good number of them jumped behind the nets.

"They made a good bit of noise. It was fantastic. Sometimes, I don't think people appreciate what the Ards support has been through over the years.

"It's amazing that we still have so many loyal fans.

"I'm delighted that we can repay them with a big day out."

For all the cup final excitement, Currie maintains that promotion to the Premiership is still his main objective.

"It's a wonderful achievement for a Championship club to reach a major final, as it hardly ever happens in this country.

"It's something for us to aim for now.

"We will look forward to taking on Cliftonville in February, who are a fantastic side, but for now, my focus is on the league.

"We're top of the Championship and we've got Bangor on Boxing Day as well as massive games against Ballyclare, Larne, Lurgan Celtic and Annagh in the league, before we can even start thinking about Cliftonville.

"This cup final is a dream come true for everyone at the club, but at the end of the day, it's still just a nice bonus.

"Our priority is a good league campaign, as that's how we will be judged at the end of the season.

"We've no match on Saturday, so I've given the lads the weekend off.

"We will enjoy the headlines for a few days and then get back to work early next week.

"We've a derby to prepare for."

Belfast Telegraph