Ballyclare Comrades’ 2-1 Irish Cup win over Carrick Rangers has manager Eddie Hill in buoyant mood.
The Reds are back in knockout action again this afternoon when they travel to Amateur League outfit Newcastle in the fifth round of the Intermediate Cup. But last Saturday’s battling victory over Championship 1 leaders Carrick really has brought a smile to the faces of all involved at the Dixon Park club. And their reward is a quarter-final trip to Premiership big boys Crusaders.
“Reaching the quarter-final of the Irish Cup is a magnificent achievement, and the players deserve all the praise that has been heaped upon them by the fans,” said Hill.
“Carrick came to Dixon Park as favourites, but we got a fantastic win against the odds, although I was always confident that we could give anyone a run for their money.
“In the final quarter they threw everything at us, but they were unable to break down our defence.
“At that stage I took off Daniel Smith and brought on Evan Forsythe to bolster our defence, and this ploy worked perfectly.
“Paddy Flood came straight into the team after having been out for four weeks with a fractured toe and made a few saves, but I didn’t think that he was really tested.”
He added: “We were leading 2-0 and almost made it three, and then just before half-time they pulled one back, and this changed my team talk.
“I urged the players not to go chasing the game, but to sit in, keep their shape, and prepare for Carrick throwing everything at them. They responded brilliantly - we had 11 heroes out there.”
Asked if being drawn away to Crusaders took the shine off the derby win he emphatically replied: “Absolutely not! The Irish Cup is the top trophy and we are in the quarter-final. It doesn’t matter who we have to play.
“When we go to Seaview we will have nothing to lose. Anything can happen in the cup.”