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Ballymena United skipper Leroy Millar can’t hide devastation as Irish Cup dream stolen away by Crusaders comeback

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Ballymena United captain Leroy Millar battles for the ball with Crusaders defender Jarlath O'Rourke during the Irish Cup final (Stephen Hamilton/Inpho)

Ballymena United captain Leroy Millar battles for the ball with Crusaders defender Jarlath O'Rourke during the Irish Cup final (Stephen Hamilton/Inpho)

Stephen Hamilton / Inpho

Ballymena United captain Leroy Millar battles for the ball with Crusaders defender Jarlath O'Rourke during the Irish Cup final (Stephen Hamilton/Inpho)

As a local lad, Ballymena United captain Leroy Millar could barely mask his disappointment after seeing his dream of lifting the Irish Cup snatched away from him.

The 26-year-old midfield powerhouse bossed the game for the Sky Blues and was named man of the match by Irish Cup final sponsors as the seconds inched closer towards a 1-0 Ballymena win.

Last gasp goals from Josh Robinson and Johnny McMurray in both normal and extra time lanced that dream for Millar and co. in cruel, cruel fashion.

“I'm speechless,” said the Sky Blues skipper. “That's football, but I didn't think we deserved that, I thought the boys were outstanding.

“To come within two minutes of winning the Irish Cup? I'm just gutted. That's the word. So close yet so far but, at the end of the day, if you're not ruthless and don't take your chances when you're on top, that's football.

“David Parkhouse had a split second decision (to score in the first half), he tried to go round the keeper, it didn't work. Nine times out of 10 he goes round the keeper, tucks it home and we have a two goal cushion and the game could have been different.

“If, buts and maybes. At the end of the day we didn't and we paid the price for it.

“I thought the team set up well and did well from one to 11, and the boys who came on too, but at the end of the day I wanted my hands on the Irish Cup and I didn't get that.

“It's always good to score early but sometimes you'd rather score late so they don't have time to respond – the way they did.

“The early goal helped us settle down and get on the ball. I thought the game plan worked well, we just came up short two minutes from time and fair play to Crusaders on winning the Irish Cup.

“It's hurting. Big time. I'm gutted for the boys as well, we just need to learn from it and next season use it as fuel to light the fire and go again.”


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