IRISH LEAGUE: Assistant manager Lee Doherty demands response from faltering Ballymena United

Ballymena United won the Shield last month
Ballymena United won the Shield last month

Assistant manager Lee Doherty insists Ballymena United cannot afford to dine out on their County Antrim Shield heroics for the remainder of the season.

The Sky Blues defeated Linfield to get their hands on the Shield last month – their second success in four years in the senior cup competition.

But since that triumphant night they have lost four out of five Premiership fixtures.

The disappointing run has threatened to drag Ballymena into a potential relegation dogfight this season.

“It is very tight at the bottom. We had a hangover before when we won the Shield in 2012, and the same is happening this season,” Doherty said.

“Winning trophies is great, but you have to give it your all in every game you play in.

“We need consistency of performances throughout the whole side. Jim Ervin is a consistently good performer, but we need the others to do that.

“They need that belief in themselves. We see how good they are in training, but we need to see it more on the pitch.”

Ballymena entertain Dungannon Swifts in the Premiership on Saturday, a side just two points behind them in the table.

Victory at the Showgrounds would see Rod McAree’s Swifts – who won the Mid Ulster Cup in midweek – leapfrog the Sky Blues into eighth.

“Dungannon is a massive game for us now, but every game is like that,” Doherty added.

“We are just above Dungannon who are on a decent run. And Warrenpoint are picking up points, so we need to look after ourselves and start winning games.

“We need our players performing.

“It is tight at the bottom now. But we are looking up, because if we win games then the relegation battle stretches away from us.

“Portadown look like being the other team in the bottom six, so we are targeting them. They are currently seventh and we are two points behind them. So we want to catch Portadown.”