Cup win helps erase memories of last year says Jonny Tuffey

Jonny Tuffey feels Saturday’s dramatic Irish Cup victory over Ballymena United goes some way in healing the hurt from a year ago.

By Steven Crawford
Monday, 9th May 2022, 11:30 am

The former Northern Ireland international felt anger and disappointment at the semi-final stage last year after he was sent off during the penalty shootout, which Crusaders eventually lost to Larne.

Fast forward 12 months and the Crues stopper was again making cup headlines, but this time it will be one to remember as his headed assist set up Josh Robinson for a vital last-gasp equaliser before Johnny McMurray won it for the Crues in extra time.

“It goes a long way to erasing what happened,” said Tuffey.

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Jonny Tuffey celebrates with the Irish Cup

“You try and use every experience bot positive and negative as a player to develop and get better

“Today goes a long way to doing that.

“I was asked the same question after the semi-final win against Cliftonville.

“I was thinking does it? But it only got us one step further than last year.

“Today probably does as we’ve gone and won it.”

The Crues needed some inspiration after toiling for most of the game to a well-drilled Ballymena side.

And up popped Tuffey to glance on a corner for Robinson to give his side a lifeline.

“It was the goalkeeping coach’s idea for me to go forward,” explained the keeper.

“It was in my head and I looked over to the bench, and Davy McClelland was like: “Go, go!”.

“It came right off my eyebrow. I’ve been battered about enough by big Jordan Owens down the years before I joined the club so I thought I would have a go at it to see what it was like.

“I’ve never done anything like that before.

“I’ve gone up but had to run back again to stop the other team from scoring.

“I closed my eyes, was praying, I was doing all sorts!

“As I say it came off the side of my head and big Josh has tapped it in.

“We didn’t play at all in the first half, Ballymena were the better team. We had to stand up and be counted and we found a way to win.

“The final message from the players to each other was that we just have to win the game.

“It didn’t matter how it looked we just had to win the game, thankfully we did that.”