Harry McConkey’s decision to ‘go for it’ against high flying Larne was rewarded in emphatic style on Saturday. The Mallards out-played high flying Larne and inflicted the first league defeat of the season on the County Antrim side thanks to goals from club veterans Ryan Campbell and Jason McCartney.

The manager was full of praise for his players for implementing the game plan to perfection, and cited the result as yet another example of how far his team have progressed since the start of the season.

“This time last week I said we may not be able to open up against a team like this and we might be better playing on the counter attack, but when we did our research and watched the video clips, myself, Craig and Stevie were of the one mind that we were in a position to go for it,” revealed Harry.

“The result cemented how far we have come since we played them earlier in the season. Although we only lost 1-0 that day, we sat in and played on the counter. This time we were very brave and got our rewards for that. We have a platform at the back now that gives us a chance to play, and it was about preparing the top three to put real pressure on them so they couldn’t get playing out the way they like to.

“You have to be very well coordinated and very fit, and to see our boys carry that out in the driving rain, and be able to do it right to the very end, was undoubtedly one of the most satisfying things of all, regardless of the result. These are a bunch of lads that take advice on board, and it is as much as you ask for when it is carried out on the pitch. You can put the message across but the players have to execute it, and they were so clearly aware of what was being asked.

“The most satisfying factor was that they were determined to carry it out, and that brings self-belief and self-confidence.”

The confidence of the team is in stark contrast to the grim day in October when the side had just suffered their eighth consecutive league defeat. Just two months later and they are a team transformed, having lost only one of their last eight and beaten the champions elect.

“I always said it was going to take time and people would have to be patient with us,” said the manager.

“I knew there was going to be many a dark day before we saw any light at the end of this tunnel. We had a wee set back even last week against Loughgall in the second half when we should have pushed on, but time after time the boys have responded and shown great strength and tried to put it right. I think our supporters are beginning to see that this bunch of lads do care about the results, and they do care about wanting to grow and get better and give a performance that people locally can be proud of.”

With the league due to split in half in January it looks as though Ballinamallard’s revival has come just too late to force their way into the top half. The Mallards need a dramatic collapse from several teams above them if they are to sneak into the top six, and although Harry has not given up all hope, he is not getting carried away with their recent form.

“The only thing we can control here is to be constantly prepared from one match to the next, and if you can give your very best for every game it will take you where it takes you,” he said. “At this moment in time we are evolving and growing and will continue to do that, and my task is to keep the expectations on a level and not to be getting carried away. I was always told not to get too low about the lows or too high about the highs.”

Ballinamallard look set to add to their squad in the January transfer window, with Harry McConkey having agreed terms with Robbie Hume to return to Ferney Park.

The attacker made three substitute appearances at the start of the 2015/16 season under Whitey Anderson, but failed to settle and moved on to Limavady. Since then he became a key figure for the North coast side. The 26 year old can play as a number ten or on the wing, but it is as a striker that he has made his name at Limavady.

“The big attraction to me is that he is ambitious to develop his game,” said Harry. “He is still relatively young and his goal scoring record for the last two seasons had been very, very good. I think he will be an important for us going forward. He is very committed and looking forward to coming. He was with us for a short time some years ago but didn’t really settle, but this time around he is in a much better place.”

Harry has not ruled out further additions to the squad in January, with former player John Currie currently training with the squad, but is keen to stress that he will only be looking for players that can add quality.

“I won’t be signing anybody for the sake of signing people, and we will only be interested in brining anybody in if they are better than what we have,” he said. “I am talking to some people in areas where we may need to look at, but we are very happy to work with the boys that we have and we would like to hold on to everybody that we can.

“There is no doubt there will be some interest in our players from elsewhere in January and that is why we have to keep our own eyes and ears open.”