McIlwaine gutted to sit out biggest match of his life
Ballinamallard United ace Joshua McIlwaine has spoken of his 'devastation' at missing out on the Tennent's Irish Cup final against Crusaders due to a ban.
The 24-year-old striker insists, however, that despite being unable to play 'in the biggest match of my life' he intends to enjoy the occasion at Windsor Park.
McIlwaine was red carded in a league game against Carrick in April after an off-the-ball incident with Caolan Loughran, resulting in a three-match ban.
Ballinamallard had hoped to reduce the suspension on appeal to two games, but with no video evidence available the Irish FA told the Fermanagh club 'there is no objective evidence to ground a successful challenge'.
"I'm devastated because the final was going to be the biggest game of my career," said McIlwaine. "I'm frustrated too with the process of the appeal system and needing video evidence.
"There were two statements sent in from Carrick players outlining my challenge wasn't intentional and I'd like to thank Carrick and their players for doing that but unfortunately it came to nothing because of what I think is a shocking system.
"There was talk about bringing the case to court but that would have cost a lot for Ballinamallard and I wouldn't expect them to do that.
Please log in or register with belfasttelegraph.co.uk for free access to this article.
"Harry (McConkey) and Steve Feeney, our coach, have said the club may not have been in this position without me, which is very nice, though I'm devastated at not being involved in such a showpiece game.
"At the same time I still intend to enjoy the occasion and make sure this doesn't wreck me. I hope to be around the boys, lifting them any way I can."