Belfast Telegraph

McConkey's focus turns to final fixture

Ards 1 Ballinamallard United 1

By Keith Bailie

A week is a long time in football.

Ballinamallard United boss Harry McConkey knows that better than most. On Tuesday night the Mallards were celebrating a vital 2-1 win over Carrick Rangers that lifted the Fermanagh club out of the relegation zone.

On Saturday, Carrick's win over Glentoran at The Oval, while Ballinamallard were held to a 1-1 draw at the Bangor Fuels Arena by Ards, turned everything on its head.

With Carrick and Ballinamallard level on points, Davy McAlinden's side lead the way on goal difference, meaning Harry McConkey's men must get at least a point at The Oval on the final day of the season, while a victory for Carrick over Warrenpoint Town would seal the Mallards' fate regardless of their result in Belfast.

McConkey said: "Six weeks ago the situation looked irreversible. The fact we are even talking about going into the last day with a realistic possibility of avoiding relegation tells you something about the resilience that this squad have displayed recently.

"You can be sure these boys will go to Glentoran next week and give it everything they have. It might be enough, or it might not, but either way these boys will be able to say they given this their all."

Looking ahead, McConkey said, "We have just got to focus on Glentoran. The game itself is the only thing we can control. We've got to ignore everything else that is going on."

On Saturday, Michael McLellan gave Ards the lead in the 10th minute only for Ryan Curran to equalise three minutes later.

Ards boss Colin Nixon said, "We played some nice football, but at times it felt like the game just passed us by.

"But Ballinamallard were fighting for their lives and we fielded a very young team, with no one over 24. Playing against a team in that position is good experience for those young boys."

Ards: S. Johnston; Glendinning, McAleenan, Byers, Ruddy; Mitchell (Brown, 59 mins), J. Kelly, Cherry (M Johnston, 82 mins), Frazer; McLellan (McKenna, 68 mins), Stewart.

Unused Subs: Torrens, McArthur

Ballinamallard United: Brush, Smyth, McLoughlin, Tahney (Hutchinson, 18 mins), McKenna; R. Clarke, Leddy (Kee, 70 mins (McCartney, 80 mins)), Noble, McGinty; O'Flynn, Curran.

Unused Subs: H. Clarke, McIlwaine

Ref: Raymond Hetherington; Rating: 7/10

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