Irish Cup: Part-time clubs have to rise to challenge says Ross Redman

Ross Redman knows the challenge for part-time clubs to push for honours is getting tougher every season, but it’s one he says the clubs have to rise to.

By Steven Crawford
Saturday, 7th May 2022, 6:00 am

Ballymena United face Crusaders in the Irish Cup final this afternoon with the Crues one of the first clubs in Northern Ireland to move towards a full-time model in recent years.

Redman accepts that developments in the league have made it tougher for clubs like Ballymena, but he is relishing the task in hand.

“In terms of fitness we probably haven’t noticed a big difference with the full-time sides,” said the experienced defender.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

Ballymena United’s Ross Redman

“Yes there’s a difference in terms of sharpness and the preparation times they have.

“Looking to the next couple of years I think it will be even tougher for the part-time teams.

“We need to focus on it as a team and individuals and try to bridge that gap.

“It is good for the league given the quality of players coming in and the coverage games are getting.

“You can see the quality especially with so many players moving across the water now too.

“You can definitely see that there is a pathway now for players to stay here past 16 and still have the opportunity to move on when they get older.

“All these things have helped create a huge buzz about the league and long may it continue.”

After a slow start to the season the Sky Blues bounced back in the new year, now Redman is hoping to finish the campaign on a high.

“I think it’s been an up and down season for us,” said the former Portadown defender.

“We didn’t start as well as we would have wanted to, but during the winter period we came into it and got a bit of momentum.

“We got to the semi-final of the League Cup and now the Irish Cup final which is a positive, but we would have liked to have done better in the league.

“It was tough though given some of the injuries and suspensions we have had.

“This year more than ever with so many full-time teams it has been tough to get into that top six.

“It’s something we need to focus on for next season as well as doing well in the cups.”