KEARNEY HAILS HIS SIDE’S PROGRESSION AS THEY EASE INTO SIXTH ROUND
ORAN Kearney was quick to praise the progress his side have made over the last 12 months as they comprehensively eased their way into the sixth round of the Irish Cup.
The Bannsiders set up a mouth watering tie with derby rivals Ballymena United following their 7-0 thumping of Amateur League side Ballynahinch United on Saturday.
Patience was definitely a virtue for the hosts as they went in all square at the break as the County Down minnows produced a workmanlike display in the first 45 minutes to shut out their senior opponents.
The floodgates opened after the break though with Curtis Allen, Ruairi Harkin (2), Stevie Lowry (2), Paul Owens and Stuart McMullan all finding the target to make sure there was no sweat like last year against Larne Tech Old Boys.
“In games like this the first goal is crucial,” Kearney told Times Sport.
“Once the goal went in, the shackles came off and there was that bit more calmness in the play.
“At half time, I just stressed patience. It’s a huge game for Ballynahinch, they’d already played three or four games to get here and today was effectively a cup final and a team in a cup final will always raise their game.
“Last year, we weren’t on top of our game and in addition to the goals they scored, Larne Tech had a couple of other chances which could have finished us.
“But today we had a more complete performance and although we didn’t get the goals until the second half, we didn’t allow them a sniff at goal.”
Kearney was delighted to see his side put Ballynahinch to the sword and that the goals were shared around.
“Perhaps we’ve been guilty in the past of not finishing teams off, so it was pleasing that we kept going today and racked up the goals,” he said.
“It was nice to see guys sharing the goals. Ruairi Harkin’s an excellent striker of the ball and technically very composed so he was the right man to step up and take the penalties. “He showed a bit of composure to put one to the keeper’s left and the other to the right. The penalty thing wasn’t a managerial decision, just up to the players and who was confident enough and quick enough to get the ball before Curtis.
“I’ve been wanting him to start scoring a few more goals and hopefully this is him on a wee run now with three in his last two.”
New signing Jamie Tomelty impressed on his debut, with Kearney saying the decision to sub him was just to keep him fresh for the games to come.
“Jamie has come in and trained extremely hard and although he was adamant he could have played on, we have a game coming up on Tuesday night and we didn’t want to push him too hard too soon.
“He showed some real quality on the ball and once he beds in he’ll only get better.”
Ballynahinch manager Colin Murray was proud of his players but he admitted the ‘moment of madness’ from defender Davy Boal, when he lashed out at Ryan McIlmoyle before being sent off, made life very difficult for his side.
“We set out our game plan it was working to a tee and we were delighted to get in at half time 0-0,” said Murray.
“Unfortunately we conceded just after the break and then one absolute moment of madness has cost us big time.
“I think the two players had words in our penalty area after a challenge and our guy has struck out. It was a straight red card and a penalty.
“But I’m proud of my lads, particularly for their first half display.
“We’ll move on and focus on our league but I hope Coleraine go on and win it so we can say we were beaten by the winners.”
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Sunday 19 May 2013
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