Junior Cup has come to Ballymena just twice in 125 years!

SO exactly how difficult is it to win the Coca-Cola IFA Junior Cup?

Friday, 3rd May 2013, 1:00 pm
Connor FC, winners of the IFA Junior cup 1978-79.

The fact that in the 125-year history of the competition, it has been won by teams from the Ballymena borough just TWICE might go some way to answering that question!

Since the competition was first played for in 1888, only Cromkill and Connor have brought the famous silverware back to Ballymena - a graphic illustration of just how highly sought-after the trophy is.

Unlike the County Antrim Junior Shield - which is competed for only by clubs in the jurisdiction of the County Antrim Football Association (i.e. counties Antrim and Down) - the Junior Cup is open to clubs from across Northern Ireland and is often won by clubs from traditional junior footballing strongholds such as greater Belfast, the north west of the Province and County Fermanagh.

The first Ballymena-based team to win the trophy was Cromkill in 1951.

The side was captained by Albert Fullerton, whose brother John scored the only goal in the final against 9th Old Boys at Grosvenor Park.

Almost three decades passed before the next - and most recent - local success, when Connor won the trophy in 1979.

The village team had knocked on the door in the years leading up to their triumph, having lost to Tobermore United and Loughgall in the semi-finals in each of the two preceding seasons.

But it was third time lucky on May 4, 1979, when a second half goal from Alex Russell sealed a 1-0 victory over Annalong Swifts in the final at Mourneview Park, Lurgan.

Both Cromkill and Connor were members of the Ballymena Junior League - no side from the Ballymena Saturday Morning League 43-year era has won the trophy, or even competed in the final, until Homers’ exploits this season.