Harryville Homers manager Robert Duddy believes his side’s Toals County Antrim Junior Shield victory has finally exorcised the memories of the club’s dismissal from the competition four years ago.
Homers had been due to face Ballymena neighbours Carniny Rangers in the 2012 final only for both teams to be removed from the competition over player ineligibility issues.
The Harryville side were subsequently banned from the Junior Shield for three years but their return to the competition this season proved a triumphant one as they beat Ballyvea 2-0 in Thursday night’s final at Seaview.
“I’m over the moon for the boys because most of them were involved in that team that weren’t allowed to take part in that final,” Duddy told Times Sport.
“They’ve had to wait three years to even get back into the competition and they’ve proved their point that they’re good enough to win it.
“On the night, I thought we were superb.
“The first half was brilliant - I couldn’t have asked for anything more from my boys.
“The second half, I told them to go out and see if we could kill the game off early.
“We missed chance after chance after chance and I was thinking ‘are they going to go up the pitch and get one and then we’ll be in for an anxious last 20?’ but we defended really, really well and kept their chance down to the bare minimum.
“It was a very good game - fair play to Ballyvea, they made the occasion what it was because they came to play football.
“They gave us a scare early on when they had a couple of great chances but fortunately enough we managed to defend well and then get a couple of goals ourselves to take us into half-time with a bit of a cushion.
“Their goalkeeper played really, really well - he had me on tenterhooks for a while - but we got there in the end.
“These boys deserve all the credit they get - they work hard all year. There were guys sitting on the bench who weren’t even in the squad and I felt a bit sorry for them but you don’t get this far by just playing 11 players all year,” added Duddy, whose side will now aim for a remarkable third straight Irish Junior Cup triumph when they take on Rosemount Rec on May Day Monday.