Harry McConkey is hoping that Ballinamallard can carry their league form into the Irish Cup when they take on PSNI at Ferney Park on Saturday. The Mallards have tasted defeat once in their last ten games, and that run has included a win and a draw against Saturday’s opponents.

The teams last met at the start of December with Ballinamallard easing to a 3-0 victory, but the manager is adamant that they will need to be at their best to repeat that success.

“When we came out of the hat we were delighted to get a home draw, but this will be a tricky encounter,” he said.

“We beat them 3-0 last time but I would hate to think that there is any complacency or that the result is a given. PSNI came back in the last minute in their last game against Ballyclare (on Saturday) and they are a team that has scored goals so often late on in games. We had a good night against them last time out, but it was a very tough game. A run in the cup would be great for the club.”

Ballinamallard’s latest league victory, their third in succession, came on Saturday at Limavady and capped a perfect Christmas week for the Mallards.

“On the back of the wonderful atmosphere against Larne and the atmosphere in the derby against Dergview, we knew we weren’t going to get the same crowd so we knew we had to create our own ambiance on the day,” said the manager.

“In the first half, while we did threaten their goal, our cohesion wasn’t at times what it might have been. They had set up with a strong block in the centre of the pitch, and we were trying to play through them rather than down the sides. We felt we couldn’t get a clear attack on goal because they defended very well and very narrow, and you have you give them credit for that. We looked a bit edgy at the back and anything they created we presented to them.

“In the second half we kept feeding it to our wide players, particularly McEvoy and Cashel, and we put together some good combination in those areas and started to get some joy.”

Having taken the lead they were soon pegged back by Limavady, but they showed signs of their new found confidence as they responded to grab a winner.

“The most important thing now is that we get on a run that breeds confidence and we are now in the position that we feel we are never beaten even when we do go a goal behind,” said Harry. “The big thing is that the players have got self-belief and belief that as a group we can achieve and come out of games on the right side.”

Ryan O’Reilly missed out on Saturday with a chest infection but the manager is hopeful he will come into contention for Saturday’s cup tie. New signing Robbie Hume will be eligible to play but having not seen competitive action for two months he will be monitored in training before making a decision on whether he will play a part. Josh McIlwaine, Dwayne McManus and Darragh McBrien are also on the road to recovery but they are not expected to make it back in time for the PSNI game on Saturday.