EUROPA LEAGUE: Euro dream is not over for Ballymena United’s Cathair Friel

Cathair Friel
Cathair Friel

Ballymena United’s hopes of reaching the second round of the Europa League are not over insists striker Cathair Friel.

The Braidmen suffered a 3-0 first leg defeat to Norwegian opponents Odds Ballklubb, but Friel believes the first goal will be crucial when the two sides lock horns at Seaview.

Ballymena's Cathair Friel celebrates scoring in the Europa League Play off game against Glenavon. Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press

Ballymena's Cathair Friel celebrates scoring in the Europa League Play off game against Glenavon. Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press

“We will have to score first and preferably early on as it will change the game,” Friel said.

“To be honest, they scored lucky goals last week and were preventable from our point of view.

“They will also be used to playing on an artificial pitch so it makes for a difficult game, but one we will be up for.”

The 24-year old, who scored 23 goals in his debut season at the Ballymena Showgrounds, admits the Sky Blues can provide a threat this evening.

“They are a professional team and are strong all over the pitch,” Friel added.

“We created chances and as a squad we feel we can get at them.

“We didn’t necessarily defend the entire match over in Norway, we did create chances, and that provides us with confidence.”

Competing in Europe completes a fairytale season for Friel, who was signed by David Jeffrey in 2016, following a goal-laden spell with Limavady United.

“If somebody told me that I’d have played in the Europa League a year ago, I’d have told him they were mad,” the striker said.

“It is an experience I will never forget and I am grateful for the opportunity.

“I didn’t expect to score as many goals as I did, but I will take the same next year.”

“The team target for the season ahead is to stay in the top six and aim for another major trophy and we will see where that takes us.”