Belfast Telegraph

Underdogs Ballinamallard will give their all to cause upset, says Kelly

Chris Kelly
Chris Kelly

By Graham Luney

Chris Kelly says there's a quiet confidence in the Ballinamallard United camp ahead of what's likely to be the biggest game of many of the players' lives.

The 2019 Irish Cup final has been dubbed a 'David v Goliath' battle with many observers giving the Championship side no chance of humbling Danske Bank Premiership big guns Crusaders.

Stephen Baxter has transformed the Shore Road men into a title-winning machine and few fans expect that machine to break down at Windsor Park.

If there's any complacency, Harry McConkey's men are ready to jump on that and midfielder Kelly is in the mood to slay a giant.

"Why can't we win the game? We will give it everything we have," said the 34-year-old who will have his own personal fan club of supporters travelling to south Belfast from Sligo. "All we can do is give it our best shot. I don't think I'll be too nervous, you have to look forward to these games. There are a lot of cool heads around the camp so I think the lads will cope with the occasion okay.

"Richard (Clarke) has been there before and done it, it's nice to have that experience you can learn from."

The former Sligo Rovers ace played Gaelic football but soccer is his No.1 passion. He also sampled Europa League action while at Sligo but an Irish Cup win would really stand out on his CV.

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"It's a massive game and I'm really looking forward to it," added the former junior international. "I'm as relaxed as I can be. We've been working hard in training and you hope things go your way in the game.

"There's no big pressure on us to win. I feel blessed to have this opportunity and hopefully we can make the most of it. Crusaders are a top team and I'll let the pressure sit on their shoulders.

"It's the biggest match of my career probably as it is a Cup final and showpiece occasion. I've played in the Europa League and that was memorable too. At Sligo in 2009 we played in Albania.

"It's been a strange season, there was that difficult start when the team took a while to gel. We had injuries but everyone came back and we kicked on.

"Harry's a gentleman and he gets the best out of everyone. He knows how to deal with the experienced players and the younger players. Fermanagh is buzzing.

"Crusaders have been the benchmark and have gone full-time but our club's profile has been boosted and hopefully we can build on this and push for a Premiership place next season."

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