Glenn Ferguson urges Sky Blues to raise the bar in semi-final tie

Ballymena United lost to Glenavon in last season's Irish Cup final
Ballymena United lost to Glenavon in last season's Irish Cup final

Ballymena United boss Glenn Ferguson admits now is the time for his team to raise the bar in Saturday’s Irish Cup semi final showdown against Portadown at The Oval (5.30pm).

The Dundonald man was a winner as a player, having picked up every honour in an illustrious career at Linfield – now Spike want his boys to follow his lead.

United have become accustomed to appearing in semi finals and finals – they were beaten by Glenavon in last season’s Irish Cup showcase decider – since Ferguson took over the took the managerial reins three years ago, but he acknowledges the club must now hit a new level.

“It’s great for everyone, players, backroom staff, board members and supporters to be in the Irish Cup semi final again,” said Ferguson. “Our fans certainly enjoy these cup runs.

“But it’s the people in the Boardroom that we need to buy into what we are trying to achieve at the football club.”

Ferguson believes the time has arrived for Ballymena to “move on to the next level”.

“We now need to move on to the next level in terms of progress and making the club into a force,” he added.

“We’ve had meetings (with the Board) and we’ve set a few things in motion that will hopefully move us forward next year. If we were to reach another Irish Cup final, it would certainly strengthen our case.

“As a player, I was used to challenging and winning, it’s the same now that I’m a manager.

“I just don’t want to be going through the motions. If I feel that I’ve done as much as I can with the squad and can’t take them any further, then something has to give.

“If it’s not me, something has to happen to take it to the next level. That’s the reality and the way I look at it.

“I may not be in the management game long, but I still have the same desire that I had as a player.

“We’ve proved over the past few years we can challenge in semi finals and finals.

“I want to see Ballymena move on and challenge for everything, not only for cups, but in the league as well.

“The cup final is the big out of the season. Everyone wants to be involved – it’s a showpiece and the final game of the season.

“If you don’t, you shouldn’t be playing this game.

“That’s will I be telling our players.”