Ballymena United are determined to make up for lost time says Jim Ervin

After five months of inaction local football is set to be back with a bang with two mouthwatering Irish Cup semi-finals.

Jim Ervin pictured with Tony Kane
Jim Ervin pictured with Tony Kane

Belfast rivals Cliftonville and Glentoran face off on Monday evening after the derby clash between Coleraine and Ballymena United.

Obviously things will be very different to the game we had back in March with no fans and numerous Covid-19 protocols in place, but even that cannot dampen the appetite for the players to be back in action again.

“It has been a frustrating time for everyone not being able to play,” said Fky Blues skipper Jim Ervin.

“We came back about four weeks ago and it’s great to be focusing on football again.

“Obviously we have new regulations to deal with, but it’s just great to be back again.

“It’s a bit different to how we left the game with everything that’s in place now, but we just have to deal with it.

“It reminds me of when you were a kid, you turned up for training kitted out and you left straight after.

“It’s obviously strange but you just have to get on with it.

“It’s been good have a game to focus on and this is obviously a massive tie - a derby Irish Cup semi-final.

“Our focus is fully on that game, as I’m sure it is for the other teams in the last four.

“No-one really knows hows it will play out, obviously with it being the first competitive game back for us all.

“But I know it won’t be lacking in intensity or desire.

“There’s a massive prize at stake, but we all know we have a massive job to do to get into the final.

“So it’s a huge game for everyone involved.

“It’s a massive disappointment that there will be no fans at the game.

“With it being a derby clash I’m sure the fans would have been out in their numbers and the atmosphere would have been electric.

“But what can we do, it’s out of our hands and we have to adhere to the regulations.

“Thankfully it’s on television so the fans will get to see it, we just have to make sure and put on a spectacle for them.

“I don’t think it matters which of the two teams go through, whoever it is it would be great to see fans being able to attend.

“Monday will take care of itself and we will see what comes out of it.”

Despite the frustration of no football for such a lengthy period it has allowed Ervin to get back to full fitness again.

“I probably would have been touch and go to make the game if it had been played on it’s original date if I’m honest,” he explained.

“The break has offered me the opportunity to get myself but fit and raring to go.

“I feel good and I’m ready to play if selected.”

The derby encounters with old rivals Coleraine have been largely forgettable affairs for the Sky Blues so far this season having lost two and drawn one of the three games to date.

Ervin though is determined to put the record straight come Monday.

“The derby games haven’t really been kind to us so far this season,” he said.

“It’s one of those things, over the last few years one club seems to have got the upper-hand on the other.

“The beauty of a derby game though is it doesn’t really matter who plays and who doesn’t because everyone knows what is at stake and how much it matters.

“Monday’s game has even more riding on it, so there will be extra spice.

“We will be well prepared and determined to come out on the right side of the result,” he added.

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