Ballinamallard manager Harry McConkey was delighted to get a home draw in the last 16 of the Irish Cup although he admits that the Mallards face a stern test against Carrick Rangers.

The Mallards booked their place in the next round with a comprehensive 5-1 win over PSNI on Saturday and they face more Championship opposition having drawn second placed Carrick.

“It is great to get another home draw although it is a tough one, Carrick have strengthened in January and they are always tricky opposition,” said McConkey.

“We know they will be dangerous but from our point of view it is about looking after ourselves and doing our best to get the result,” he added.

On Saturday the Mallards trailed 1-0 at half time to PSNI but with their opponents down to ten men they bossed matters in the second half, scoring five times as well as missing a penalty.

McConkey felt the key to the win was being patient.

“I do think we had to be patient again and that is something that we have had to do over the last few weeks. We went a goal behind and that is not something that we ever want to do but I felt that there was always going to be enough in this team to get back into it.

“Yes, they lost a player but that was because we were pressing and we got in on goal and it was a clear cut decision. We knew the longer the game went on if we moved the ball quickly then we would cause them trouble when they tired.

“I think maybe at times we were looking for the opening too soon but when we stayed patient we got our rewards,” he said.

The PSNI opener came from an error from captain Richard Clarke but McConkey was keen to praise the skipper’s overall performance.

“It is a rare occasion that Richard will get caught in that situation and he held his hand up straight away but look at the rest of his performance, he is instrumental to us and he dictates the play. He was excellent.”

And the second half display was one that delighted McConkey.

“I had said to them at half time that if the equaliser didn’t come in the first ten minutes we mustn’t panic that there would be opportunities and we stressed to them that we had to stretch the game and we wanted our wide men getting chalk on their boots. We told them at half time the areas they needed to improve and they went and did it which was pleasing. It was a very good second half performance,” he enthused.

New signing Robbie Hume was among the goals on the day for the Mallards and looked lively throughout the game which was another positive for the Ducks manager.

“I’m delighted for Robbie because he hasn’t played 90 minutes at this level for a long time.

“We were pleased with him getting the goal and I thought he dovetailed very well with Ryan Campbell for his first game.”

The focus now though switches back to the league and a crunch encounter against Ballyclare on Saturday week with the possibility of a top six place up for grabs for both clubs.

“The good thing is that we are still alive and kicking and mathematically we are in with a chance of top six which would have seemed crazy at the start of December.

“I can sense that the players are really hungry to build on what we have done so far.

“We will watch Ballyclare this week and do our homework and we are hoping that with our momentum we can give them a hell of a game here at home and if they are going to be in the top six they will have earned it,” he added.