Ballynure Old Boys set sights on treble

Ballynure Old Boys manager Gary Burns. INNT 13-023-GR
Ballynure Old Boys manager Gary Burns. INNT 13-023-GR

Ballynure OB all but wrapped up the Ballymena Premier League title with two wins – and the treble is still on the cards.

Gary Burns’ lads have completed their league programme and sit at the summit with 43 points, a total that could be matched by sole rivals, Newtowne, but they have a much inferior goal difference.

“Our goal difference is 41, while Newtowne’s is only 29, so they would have to win their two remaining fixtures against Brantwood and Magherafelt Sky Blues by massive margins to catch us,” reasoned Burns.

With the McReynolds Cup already in the trophy cabinet, the ‘Nure lads are hoping to complete the treble on Friday evening when they contest the Crawford Cup final with Antrim Rovers at Allen Park.

Rovers and Ballyclare Comrades Reserves slugged it out all season for supremacy in the Ballymena Junior League Division 1, before Rovers clinched the title and prevented the Wee Reds from making it four in a row.

So the cup final is a Premier League champions v Junior League champions affair, with Ballynure being dubbed favourites to make their seniority count.

Meanwhile after dropping valuable points the previous week, Ballynure were back on track with wins against Brantwood and Magherafelt Sky Blues.

Brantwood were the midweek visitors to Mossley, where strikes by Ronnie Burns and Ricky Higgins sealed the odd goal in three win, but it was much easier than that, with Brants keeper, Darren Dempster, the star performer.

Time and again especially in the second half he denied the eager home attack, while his opposite number, Ryan Stewart, who was standing in for suspended Paul Hughes, scarcely had a save to make.

Burns opened the scoring in the 25th minute when he pounced on a loose ball in the box and fired in to the bottom corner, but the city side were soon back on level terms when the ball was deflected off Josh McIlroy for an own goal.

However the hosts turned round one up when Burns skinned his marker, before squaring to Higgins who rolled the ball in to the net.

With Johnny McClurg and Andy Forsythe running the show in midfield it was one way traffic during the second session, but Burns, Higgins, Mark Leckey and McClurg all had goal-bound shots saved by Dempster.

On Saturday it was off to Magherafelt where the Sky Blues were whitewashed 8-0.

Strikes by Gareth Curlett, Ronnie Burns and Mark Leckey (penalty) had the points sewn up at the break, while further goals by Burns, Ricky Higgins (2), skipper Michael Duff and Robert Houston greatly enhanced Ballynure’s goal difference.

‘Nure officials are hoping that there will be good vocal support at Allen Park tomorrow (Friday) evening for the Crawford Cup final.