OPINION: McMurray’s return a massive Ballymena boost

Johnny McNabb
Johnny McNabb

You could almost hear the sighs of relief from Ballymena as striker Johnny McMurray returned from injury to guide the Braidmen through to the last four of the County Antrim Shield.

David Jeffrey’s side have missed the former Cliftonville striker all season and he will hope to once again form a deadly partnership with Cathair Friel.

The Sky Blues have made a sluggish start to the season and I must admit I’m not surprised.

Last year, Jeffrey swooped for the likes of Friel, McMurray, Kyle Owens and Conor McCloskey who all had a point to prove in playing regular football in the top flight. The first three, in particular, were a catalyst for the League Cup triumph and European football qualification of last season.

Compare that to this summer and you can’t help but feel Jeffrey’s signings have been poor. Michael Gault isn’t the player he once was, Conor Brennan is conceding sloppy goals and has Stephen McAlorum even kicked a ball? As the former Linfield manager hinted to the media after the 4-0 thumping by Glenavon, there could be a few faces for the exit door in January.

Another relieved man last weekend was Ballinamallard boss Gavin Dykes as the ‘Ducks’ managed to get their first win of the season against Carrick.

Talking of the Bannsiders – they showed true grit and determination in the win against Cliftonville last weekend.