It would be simplistic to define Seanan Clucas’ first fixture as Dungannon Swifts captain in a single moment - but wrong to ignore the significance of his injury-time penalty kick.
That successful spot-kick helped to secure a well-earned and welcome share of the spoils with last season’s Danske Bank Premiership runners-up following a first fixture in which Clucas delivered as a senior player to help steer an inexperienced Swifts side to fightbacks on two occasions.
“Mark Patton was the designated penalty taker but off the pitch at that point and I looked around and fancied myself,” said Clucas. “It is a young squad, I’m probably the next oldest outside Mark and Michael Carvill and I’m only 26 years old.
“But for all of the senior players, we’ve got to set the right example and show the right attitude for the younger guys to feed off.
“Long may it continue that we keep on producing young players into the firsts at this club.
“It’s testament to the mentality of those on Saturday that, after going behind, we didn’t fold and simply accept Ballymena would be expected to win.
“It was a massive performance against a very good side coming off the back of a very good season and into this campaign following European games.
“We matched them stride-for-stride and maybe bettered them in the second half.
“We fully deserved the point we got and could even have taken all three.
“The boys dug deep and showed what we are all about.
“We weathered that first-half storm with Ballymena on top but they’ve a lot of quality in the side and we knew it was still 1-0 for the second half.
“It came down to our attitude to get back into the game and our fitness levels were really strong.”
Clucas was joined on the scoresheet by Ryan Waide as the Linfield loan signing celebrated a debut goal, setting up Oisin Smyth then reacting to the loose ball after the subsequent shot had been pushed out.
“Ryan has been super since coming in, he looks quality and to get up-and-running in terms of goals can only fill him full of confidence,” said Clucas. “Hopefully,it’s the first of many for the Swifts.
“Oisin, off the back of coming through last season, has a point to prove as we all do having let our standards drop towards the end of that last campaign.
“He’s big and strong for someone so young and wants to nail down that jersey.
“He has a really bright future and it was good to see him take control in the second half.
“Kris Lindsay has his own stamp on the squad and it is one hungry for what we hope is going to be a successful season.”
DUNGANNON SWIFTS: Johnston, King, Clucas, Smyth, Teggart, Patton (Campbell, 68), Lowe, Carvill, McGuinness, Waide, Coyle (Taylor, 90).
Subs (not used): Addis, McGinty, Marcal, Gallagher.
BALLYMENA UNITED: Glendinning, Kane (McGrory, 74), Addis, Mayse, Harpur (McGinty, 85), Friel, McCullough, Balmer, Winchester (Lavery, 67), Ervin, Millar.
Subs (not used): Williamson, Whiteside, Carville, Kelly.
Referee: Keith Kennedy.