Striker Matthew Tipton is looking to the future at Ballymena

Matthew Tipton
Matthew Tipton

Ballymena striker Matthew Tipton insists there is more than an Irish Cup final place up for grabs in Saturday’s semi-final showdown against Portadown at The Oval (5.30pm)

The 34-year-old, who joined United from Linfield last summer, has played a significant part in the Sky Blues’ charge to the last four – and is determined to keep the fairytale going.

Tippy makes no bones about the fact the he is also playing for a new contract to keep him at the Warden Street Showgrounds.

“We are now at the business end of the season,” he said. “Thankfully, we still have the opportunity of picking up a trophy, which helps maintain the buzz around the club.

“Our league form hasn’t been great and we didn’t achieve what we set out to do as we failed to finish in the top six. Everything is now focused on the cup semi-final which is paramount.

“But there are people now playing for contracts, including myself. Everyone of the boys – or those who are coming out of contract – have the semi-final and six league games left to try and achieve that.

“The more points you get on the board and the further you go in the cup all adds to hardening your claim for a new contract.”

Tipton is relishing the prospect of facing one of his former clubs. He has hit the net on 17 occasions this season and will certainly be in no mood for sentiment when Ronnie McFall’s boys make the journey to East Belfast.

“They’ll be smarting at having Robbie Garrett and Chris Casement sent off last weekend, which means they miss the game,” he adds.

“But they have a good squad and it really opens the door for someone else to come in with a cup final place up for grabs.”