Striker David McDaid admitted he blew a sigh of relief when he gobbled up his team’s killer second goal in Saturday night’s JBE League Cup final against Ards at Solitude.
The little 25-year-old was left holding his head in frustration in first half injury time when his well struck penalty was brilliantly saved by goalkeeper Ryan Brown.
But after a half-time chat with his manager Gerard Lyttle, McDaid was even more determined to redeem himself. And, he didn’t disappoint.
Martin Donnelly already had the rampant Reds in front when McDaid struck, poking in from close range. Stephen Garrett then made it a night to remember by hitting a late third.
The celebrations went on for some time after Lyttle’s boys wrote themselves into the record books by becoming the first team to win the trophy on four successive occasions.
“I hit the penalty well enough, but the goalkeeper guessed right,” said the former Derry City man. “It would have been a good time to score a second goal, the game could well have been over.
“The gaffer had a word with me at half time. I simply had to clear my head. He told me to forget about it and that I’d get another chance to score. If anything, the penalty miss made me even more determined
“Thankfully, I managed to stick away the chance that fell to me. There was no question of me being offside because they had a player on the line. In the end, it was comfortable enough.”
McDaid stressed it was a special moment when he went up to receive his medal.
“Personally, this success is up there with any trophies I’ve won before,” he added. “It really means more because it has taken us into the record books.
“It’s also the first trophy I’ve won here. Last season I was on the bench for the final against Ballymena.
“We’ll enjoy the occasion, but have a massive league game against Crusaders coming up next week - one we have to win.”
McDaid, who attracted interest from Linfield in last month’s transfer window, was relieved to be handed a starting shirt as he stressed competition for places at Solitude is now massive.
He added: “We obviously strengthened by bring in Darren Murray and Daniel Hughes. It’s great for me because that kind of competition helps keep me hungry.
“It can only make me better, we’ve also got Jay (Donnelly) and Stevie (Garrett), so we have five strikers battling for two places.”
Gerard Lyttle admitted he had to battle back the tears at the final whistle after picking up his first trophy as manager.
“I’m over the moon,” said Lyttle. “I’m not only thrilled for myself, but for the team, the Board and everyone at the club.”