IRISH LEAGUE: Jenkins keen to stay on after one of ‘proudest nights’

Allan Jenkins celebrates with his daughter Macie after Ballymena United's first ever League Cup win. 'Photo Mark Marlow/Pacemaker Press
Allan Jenkins celebrates with his daughter Macie after Ballymena United's first ever League Cup win. 'Photo Mark Marlow/Pacemaker Press

Few players in sky blue deserved a cup final goal more than Allan Jenkins.

The Scot - who later ruled out any suggestion he would retire at the end of the season - has long been a loyal servant to Ballymena United.

The fact that he’s no longer guaranteed a starting slot perhaps shows how the squad has improved in the six years since he arrived at the Showgrounds.

When he crashed home the opener from a Willie Faulkner cross shortly before half-time, there was a feeling the script had been penned to perfection.

“It’s one of the proudest nights of my career,” said Jenkins, who also netted in the 2014 Irish Cup final but that day ended on the losing side.

“When you see the number of supporters, and there could have been more, it was a fantastic occasion and thankfully we got the job done.

“We’ve been through some tough times so to get to where are are now is incredible. It means so much to the fans, the staff and the players. We’ll enjoy it.”

The 35 year-old’s contract is up at the end of the season but he’s hoping it won’t mean his spell at the Showgrounds coming to an end.

“The future will be what David (Jeffrey) sees my future as,” said Jenkins, who has been deployed in almost every position during his stint at the club. “I’ve no intentions of retiring.

“I’ve thoroughly enjoyed working with the group. I think this is the best and most competitive squad that we’ve had in my time.

“We brought in quality during the summer, the likes of Conor (McCloskey), Cathair (Friel) and Johnny (McMurray), and then added Joe McKinney and Kevin Braniff in January. The list is endless.

“It’s football. You play as long as you can. You’re a long time retired so I’ll keep going and see where it takes me.”

Manager Jeffrey’s vision for his reign at the United helm is an ambitious one and ever since Jenkins got the first phone-call from his new boss last summer, it’s optimism the midfielder agrees is well-founded.

“Everybody’s behind him,” said Jenkins. “There’s no argument against him because he keeps winning trophies.

“You come off the phone to him thinking you’re Lionel Messi, although the realisation soon hits you like a thud. The way he is with words, he gets people to play for him.

“We’ve built from where we were when he came in and his aim is to be league champions. It’s a tough, tough task but we’re making inroads to it. We’ll give it our best shot and whatever will be, will be.”

For now, Jenkins can enjoy being a League Cup champion and Man of the Match in the final to boot.

“I’ll enjoy this,” he said, glancing at his MOTM champagne, “which I think my dad must have been voting for or something.

“I’m delighted to get it and get the goal. It’s a wonderful day. This is why you work so hard and this is what it’s all about.”