Coleraine produce more cup heroics

Coleraine celebrate penalty shoot-out victory over Ballinamallard
Coleraine celebrate penalty shoot-out victory over Ballinamallard

Coleraine certainly like a bit of drama in the Irish Cup that’s for sure.

Four years ago the Bannsiders looked to be heading out of the competition as they trailed minnows Larne Tech Old Boys 2-0 going into the last five minutes of the game.

Remarkably they fought back scoring three goals to win the game in normal time, much to the disbelief of everyone in the ground.

On Saturday they produced another stunning comeback to send Ballinamallard United crashing out.

Whitey Anderson’s men deservedly led 2-0 thanks to first half goals from Ryan Campbell and Adam Lecky.

They looked to have withstood a spirited response from the home side as the game entered the dying stages of the game, but then that old cup magic kicked in again.

First Steven Douglas rifled in from over 20 yards to give his side hope before Ruairi Harkin completed the comeback with a similarly spectacular strike.

Oran Kearney’s men couldn’t find a third goal this time round but they held their nerve in the penalty shoot-out as Emmett Friars and Ryan Campbell both missed from 12 yards.

“Going in at half time I really struggled to see how we had any chance of being in the hat for the next round,” said a delighted Kearney afterwards.

“But credit to the lads, we spoke at half time, and it was by no means over the top or anything else, but we felt with them maybe not having won in 10 games the first goal after the break was going to be really important.

“The big aim was the early goal that would give us a serious adrenalin boost to go and try and get the equaliser.

“We knocked at the door and created quite a few chances, but it had all the hallmarks of one of those days.

“But I said to the players on days like this people have to step up to the mark, people have to show real courage.

“Steven Douglas pushed up into that area and took on the shot with his left foot, which we’ll be hearing about for years to come.

“That’s what the Irish Cup is all about, unless players step up and take responsibility then you will suffer.

“Ruairi Harkin stepped up as well on his weak side too. I’ve seen him pass when in a similar situation hundreds of times.

“But probably the fact that there’s only a minute or so left he decides to shift it out of his feet and shoot. Those are the moments you need on days like this.”

As Kearney celebrated his counterpart Whitey Anderson cut a disconsolate figure.

His side have now gone 11 games without a win and the manner of this defeat could have a big impact on their season.

“I’m extremely disappointed for the players because they put a great shift, both teams did, it was a real cup tie,” he said.

“I think there’s a few seconds to go when Ruairi Harkin fires that into the top corner.

“It’s very disappointing for us to lose after leading 2-1 going into that stage of the game.

“But you have to ask questions of your defence.

“How can Steven Douglas, a centre half, stride up the pitch and take a shot from 20 yards and nobody goes and presses him.

“It’s a very disappointing goal to be quite honest with you.

“The timing of Ruairi Harkin’s goal is disappointing, but you have to give him credit because it’s an absolute cracker of a shot.”