AARON Stewart produced arguably the performance of his career on the biggest occasion of his career to help Ballymena United to County Antrim Shield success.
The 22-year-old defender was named man-of-the-match after a stylish display at the heart of the United defence as the Sky Blues beat Linfield on penalties at the Oval.
Stewart, captain on the night, lifted the famous trophy along with club captain Allan Jenkins, who had come on as a second half substitute after two months out with a knee ligament injury.
“I think anyone who saw my reaction as I was coming off the pitch saw how much it meant to me,” said ‘Archie’.
“To be honest I can’t think of a better moment, certainly not in my football career anyway.
“It’s the first trophy I’ve ever won and to end a 23-year drought for the club makes it all the sweeter.
“It’s a lottery but we practised them last night but I looked at our five and I was fairly confident that they could do the business.
“Even after the initial five, we had players willing to step up - I think I was number seven on the list but I’m glad it didn’t come down to that!
“But once it came to Alan Davidson taking the penalty to win it, I think we all knew he was going to do it - Mr Confidence himself.
“I think we were very well organised and hard to break down. I think we deserved our lead at half-time - I don’t recall Linfield creating too much.
“Second half was more backs-against-the-wall and they eventually got the breakthrough but we defended well and saw it out with not too many scares.
“It was incredible scenes in the changing room, everybody jumping about, singing and wanting to get their photo taken with the trophy.
“I’m sure the celebrating will go on for a while - I got a bottle of champagne for man-of-the-match but it’s long gone once the boys got hold of it!” added Aaron.