Ballymena United skipper Allan Jenkins is determined is determined to keep his side focused on the bigger picture as the most important game in the Sky Blues’ recent history looms large.
Saturday 3 May may be the date ringed on the calendar in every United supporting household, but after their 1-1 draw at Coleraine at the weekend Jenkins was quick to point out there are still some important games to come before that.
“We’ve got three sort of dead games as such left in the league and we would be lying if we said we weren’t distracted by the cup final,” said the big Scot.
“It’s been 25 years since the club has last been there so all the players are desperate to be part of it.
“The whole town and the club has been gripped by the cup final so it is hard to focus on anything but that at the minute. But if we can get through the next three games we are looking for a record points total of 50 points, so we have that to play for.
“It’s also very important that you go into the final winning games, you don’t want to be going there on the back of a losing streak, so we are determined to win as many games as possible.
“The teams we have to play still have a lot to play for so it is up to us to rise to that. It’s important for us to put on performances the crowd can take heart from and give us a final push towards the big day in May.
“We all know we have to earn a shirt for the final and rightly so. That has given everyone a carrot to try and earn a place in that starting eleven.
“The manager has told us no-one can rest on their laurels, everyone has to work hard and do their bit in the remaining games to earn their place and hopefully do their shirt proud in the final. “
Ally Teggart’s last minute penalty cancelled out a first half Eoin Bradley spot kick to leave Ballymena unbeaten against their derby rivals this term.
“I think this was a good game for us today because it was a derby game and there’s that bit of spice between the two teams,” said Jenkins.
“We got the penalty, whether it was a penalty or not I don’t know, but at that stage of the game you take and Ally has dispatched it well to earn us a point.
“As I say whether we deserved it or not I don’t know but we’ll definitely take it.”
Coleraine boss Oran Kearney also questioned the validity of the penalty the visitors were awarded.
“There’s a wee bit of puzzlement there amongst the lads as to what actually happened,” he said.
“Howard Beverland is not trying to block the ball with hand and he is so close to the player who flicked the ball on he can’t really get out of the way. It is a tough one to call.”