IRISH CUP: Managers’ mutual appreciation as Ballymena welcome Ballinamallard

Ballinamallard United Gavin Dykes.
Ballinamallard United Gavin Dykes.

Ballinamallard United boss Gavin Dykes will set aside his admiration for the man he considers ‘The Master’ in pursuit of Irish Cup progress.

Dykes’ United visit a Ballymena United side under the guidance of David Jeffrey, who steered Linfield to seven cup triumphs as manager.

Ballymena United manager David Jeffrey. Pic by PressEye Ltd.

Ballymena United manager David Jeffrey. Pic by PressEye Ltd.

However, Dykes is relishing the opportunity to build on the positive start to the 2018 league campaign with a knockout boost.

“We lacked the squad depth earlier in the season to be competitive across games in a short space of time but the January window is been helpful to our form,” said Dykes. “David is the master really and knows everything about preparing for a cup tie but, thanks to the competition for places now, we do not view any game as one we cannot win.

“The 6-4 win over Cliftonville was a real lift but we still conceded four goals and cup ties often prove tight.

“The pressure is all on Ballymena and, hopefully, they will also have one eye on next week’s League Cup semi-final.

Jeffrey shares an appreciation of his opposite number - and the boost from United’s transfer business.

“I watched Ballinamallard against Crusaders on New Year’s Day and they deserved something out of the game,” said Jeffrey. “Gavin has added tremendously well and then you see the result against Glentoran when they drew and should’ve won that game.

“And who would’ve thought they would’ve beaten Cliftonville 6-4?

“It was a big, big game and when we’ve played them it’s always been very tight, so it will be very tough but it’s the cup and we’ll have a go.”