Conleth McCaughan is the Irish Cup hero for Ballymoney to book a glamour tie against Crusaders

Action from the Ballymoney United v Banbridge Irish Cup match. Picture by John McMullan.INBM03-13 208JC
Action from the Ballymoney United v Banbridge Irish Cup match. Picture by John McMullan.INBM03-13 208JC

CONLETH McCaughan was the hero as his strike settled this Irish Cup tie and booked Ballymoney a plum away tie at Crusaders in the Sixth Round on February 8.

United boss John Fall is delighted at getting mighty Crusaders in the next round.

He said: “All at the club are delighted to be drawn against one of the biggest clubs in N.I. We know it will be a mammoth task for us but it will be a day for our players to relish playing against top players in our country.

“Everyone at the club is in a buzz and I heard the committee are looking into getting a bus arranged. We all hope to do the club and our borough proud at Seaview on February 8.”

Last Saturday, both teams made a cautious start at the Riada Stadium with Banbridge setting the early pace and they came close on 9 mins when McParland brought a fantastic finger tip save from Moore and again another save from McCartan who saw his efforts further unrewarded when Keane cleared off the line from the ensuing cross.

Banbridge continued to dominate this stage of the game and but for a crucial tackle from McClelland on 11 mins, could have taken the lead. Moore was at hand again on 15 mins when he pushed a McParland effort round the post for a corner.

Banbridge should have taken the lead from the corner Boyle heading wide at the back post from a free header. Ballymoney settled down at and came close on 20 mins when a good move down the right from Larkin found Eoin Gillan who turned the defence and shot just wide of Cairnduff in the visitors’ goal.

A great pass from Kernaghan for the visitors found Downey who controlled perfectly but was smothered by Moore in the home goal to prevent a goal scoring chance on the half hour.

Ballymoney took the lead on 35 mins when McCaughan directed his back post header over a hapless Cairnduff in the Banbridge goal.

Banbridge attacked straight from the kick off and came close from McParland when he shot just over. Ballymoney absorbed the Banbridge pressure and went in at half time holding the lead.

Ballymoney came out in the second half in a positive manner and asserted their authority from the start pinning Banbridge Town in their own half and defended stoutly when required.

Banbridge tried hard but failed to break a resolute home defense and were occasionally caught by the counter attack. The game settled into a stalemate at this stage with Ballymoney coming close on one such attack when Larkin threaded the ball into the front post which was narrowly missed by Gerald Gillan in the 70th min.

As Banbridge pushed for an equaliser the home team once again took advantage of the counter attack and came close when McCaughan brought a great save out of Cairnduff.

Ballymoney had the best chances in the closing encounters when McFerran came close in the 84th min crashing the ball into the side netting with Cairnduff beaten. With time running out Larkin had a great effort saved in the 89th minute.

Ballymoney United: Moore, Keane, McGarry, McFerran, OgBoyle, Eoin Gillan, McClelland, Dooey, Gerald Gillan, Larkin, McCaughan, Subs: Johnson, Wallace, Brown, McKenna.

Banbridge Town: Cairnduff, Ferguson, Baird, Greene, Waddell, McParland, Teggart, McCartan, Boyle, Downey, Kernoghan.

Subs: Buchanan, Jones, O’Neill, Watson, McVittie.

* Ballymoney United play Killymoon Rangers on Saturday 18th January at the Mid Ulster Sports Stadium Cookstown in the league.

* Glebe Rangers take on Chimney Corner at home in a Belfast Telegraph Championship Two league game.