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Shout about: Ballymena boss David Jeffrey was impressed with his team’s battling Irish Cup victory at Warrenpoint

Shout about: Ballymena boss David Jeffrey was impressed with his team’s battling Irish Cup victory at Warrenpoint

�INPHO/Brian Little

Shout about: Ballymena boss David Jeffrey was impressed with his team’s battling Irish Cup victory at Warrenpoint

David Jeffrey's joy at Ballymena United reaching the quarter-finals of the Irish Cup was lost amid last weekend's Milltown meltdown involving Warrenpoint Town goalkeeper Mark Byrne.

Vocal and extremely animated on the sidelines, Jeffrey knew the sixth round match was crucial for his club - defeat at Warrenpoint and his side's season was all but over.

The Sky Blues are safe from relegation, will not make it into the top six and were unfortunate to lose the County Antrim Shield final when Cliftonville scored twice in injury time to claim the trophy.

Exit from the Irish Cup and there would have been little but pride for Ballymena to play for having finished runners-up and qualified for Europe last term.

At one stage it was on the cards as they trailed 1-0 at Milltown before Kyle Owens, on loan from Crusaders, equalised and then Andrew McGrory netted the decisive goal with 88 minutes on the clock.

Not surprisingly the injury time madness when Byrne left the pitch and jumped behind the goal into the Ballymena fans was the main post match talking point, but the significance of the result wasn't lost on Jeffrey.

Ballymena travel to Ballinamallard for a quarter-final tie at the end of the month.

With players keen to be involved at Ferney Park, that will spice up United's forthcoming league games starting today at home to Carrick who are two points clear of the ninth placed Braidmen.

"The match meant a lot to our football club and to me as well," explained Jeffrey.

"I'm often asked about pressure and people say 'surely it is not the same as it was when you were at Linfield'.

"Those who think that don't really know David Jeffrey because I put myself under pressure as does (assistant) Brian McLaughlin.

"We really wanted to succeed in the Cup match and it was vitally important that we progressed.

"I was really proud of the players because they dug very deep. I would have preferred if we had got one or two goals earlier but at the end of the day we got the result and we are through to the next round.

"It was great for Kyle Owens coming back on loan to us and getting an important goal and Andrew McGrory showed fantastic composure to slot the ball home late on having previously had a couple of other chances."

Meanwhile, the Irish Cup quarter-final between Larne and Coleraine at Inver Park will be shown on BBC Two NI and the BBC Sport website on Friday, February 28.​

The league encounter involving title chasers Linfield and Crusaders on February 21 will be screened live.​

Another key match, between Glentoran and Linfield, on March 20 will also be shown live.​

This will be the first time the derby between the two big Belfast rivals will be shown live as part of BBC NI's 'Friday Night Football' programme.​

BBC NI will also show an Irish Cup semi-final live on Friday, March 27 and the final will be live on BBC Two NI on May 2.

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