Belfast Telegraph

I have faith in Mallards to pull off Cup final shock: McConkey

Ballinamallard United manager Harry McConkey
Ballinamallard United manager Harry McConkey

By Graham Luney

Ballinamallard United manager Harry McConkey believes his heroes can perform one of the greatest Irish Cup shocks at Windsor Park this afternoon (2.30pm).

Danske Bank Premiership big hitters Crusaders are red-hot favourites to sink the Championship minnows but the whole of Fermanagh has rallied behind the 'Mighty Ducks' and McConkey doesn't want the fairytale to end.

If the Mallards can celebrate a Cup miracle, they will replicate the stunning achievements of Willowfield, who overcame Larne in 1928, Dundela, who conquered Glenavon in 1955, and Carrick Rangers following their 2-1 win over Linfield in 1976.

"I don't care if you're Pep Guardiola or (Crusaders manager) Stephen Baxter, it's hard to be sure that your players are all going to be on it," said McConkey. "Like me I have to trust I've put enough into my players to give them a platform and a confidence to go and play.

"That's what pleased me so much about the Warrenpoint game in the semi-final because I had the same fears throughout the tournament.

"We are all so used to travelling this journey to perform, but maybe not always getting the success.

"We'll have another rattle at it on Saturday.

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"My job is only that I can prepare them as much as I can, but I trust them that they will be able to perform because of what we have put into them. I just hope that is the case."

Baxter is confident his men won't show any complacency or underestimate the threat posed by United.

"Nobody hands it to you and Ballinamallard will want it just as much as us," he said. "If we want it more than them, we have to fight tooth and nail to get it. There are no names on the trophy until the final whistle sounds. Our name is certainly not on it.

"I have said to the boys, 'You have to be serial winners'. They can't think this is a one-off, the great players are remembered for being serial winners.

"There is always pressure around any match, but it is about how you handle the game and we are used to doing that. The boys are ready."

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