LEAGUE CUP: ‘First trophy’ joy for Jeffrey but focus on Ballymena title target

David Jeffrey holds aloft the League Cup following success for Ballymena United over Carrick Rangers. Pic by Pacemaker Ltd.
David Jeffrey holds aloft the League Cup following success for Ballymena United over Carrick Rangers. Pic by Pacemaker Ltd.

David Jeffrey clocked up the 32nd trophy success of his managerial career on Saturday - but ignored talk of a trip down memory lane to instead focus on Ballymena United’s bright future.

Jeffrey returned to the Irish League dug-out last March and the former Linfield boss praised the players, supporters and officials at Ballymena for the backing that has allowed the Sky Blues to prove competitive in the trophy stakes across such a short space of time.

Now the landmark League Cup win has been secured in The Showgrounds trophy cabinet, Jeffrey’s focus is on moving forward towards the ultimate aim of adding a first league title in Ballymena history.

Jeffrey covered the short distance from the Seaview pitch to the press room flying high having steered his side to a 2-0 victory over Carrick Rangers, The real journey behind Jeffrey’s drive is on closing the gap between Ballymena and the league champions.

The significance of sitting in a room surrounded by reminders last weekend’s neutral cup venue is the day-to-day home of back-to-back title winners Crusaders was not lost on the experienced boss.

“It feels like my first trophy as I feel like a new, young manager at Ballymena,” said Jeffrey. “Cup wins are good but the league is always the most important.

“When John Taggart and Don Stirling spoke about taking on the job they reminded me Ballymena had never won a league...but how would I fancy that for a challenge.

“It might take some time but that must be our focus as a club and that is certainly what we are aiming to get towards.

“When it came to the business of recruiting players we talked about winning trophies and medals, with key to that a desire to win the league.”

Ballymena captured a first League Cup prize in club history thanks to goals from Allan Jenkins and Conor McCloskey, the former late in the first half and the latter across injury-time.

“Allan has been here for a period of time and Conor joined last year, so when you get that kind of mix working together you get days like today,” said Jeffrey. “Conor epitomises what this club is about in many ways.

“I spoke to Conor and the other substitutes about the role they could play on Saturday.

“Conor did not just score a goal after coming on, he hit a fantastic strike of real quality in injury-time.

“But he also showed what Ballymena is about in terms of the team first and doing your best when you get the opportunity.

“That is why, together, we have made these incremental strides.”