Unlikely hero Ruddy rips up ‘derby’ day script

Michael Ruddy celebrates with Ballymena United's supporters after scoring the winning goal in Saturday's win at Coleraine. Picture: Press Eye.
Michael Ruddy celebrates with Ballymena United's supporters after scoring the winning goal in Saturday's win at Coleraine. Picture: Press Eye.

Michael Ruddy admitted he was probably the most unlikely of heroes as Ballymena United savoured ‘derby’ day success against Coleraine.

The 21-year-old defender scored only the second goal of his career to earn United full points at Ballycastle Road and keep the Sky Blues joint top of the Danske Bank Premiership.

“Glenn brought me on because Coleraine were getting a bit of joy down our left hand side and I would be more naturally defensive,” Ruddy told Times Sport

“He said he wanted me to work hard up and down the pitch but I don’t think scoring the winner was in the script - that’s what can happen on ‘derby’ day!

“Usually when I’m on the pitch, when we win a corner it’s generally me and someone else staying back to defend - I don’t normally get up for corners.

“I was playing slightly higher up the pitch when I came on and the boss didn’t tell me NOT to go forward for it!

“I think Coleraine maybe under-estimated me because I’m not the tallest and they were probably paying more attention to some of our bigger players - it was slightly behind me so I had to stoop to get my head on it.

“I don’t get many goals and I couldn’t really control myself when it went in.

“I got a wee bit carried away and jumped up on the railings but I think that was understandable!

“Typical of our boys to bring me down to earth quickly, though - when we got into the dressing room after the game they were telling me I’ll have to pay a fine for getting booked for over-celebrating.

“The boys were pulling my leg about it being an own goal and the last touch coming off a defender but there’s no way they’re going to take the winning goal in a ‘derby’ off me!

“I’m not sure exactly how we won the game - it was a case of great defending at times, with clearances off the line so the boys who did that deserve great credit.

“We’ve seen it ourselves this season when we were the better team at Glenavon and lost so that one maybe evens that up a wee bit.

“In a ‘derby’ match it’s all about the result. We know how disappointed we would be if we had played well and lost so to play badly and win is something that we’ll certainly take.

“We’ve had to do it a few times recently - the Institute game was another one where we didn’t play great but dug in to win.

“We really believe we can make that jump into the top six this season and then maybe see if we can push on for top four.

We’ve been able to win ugly and we’ve picked up points regularly. The spirit is tremendous at the minute. Some people are maybe disappointed at not playing more regularly - I’m one of them - but you know now that when you come on, you have to give it 110 per cent,” added Michael.