Ballinamallard manager Harry McConkey knows how big a win Saturday’s Irish Cup quarter-final victory over Dungannon Swifts was and he understands the size of the prize on offer for the winner of their semi-final against Warrenpoint.

However, the Ducks boss is not about to get too carried away as he looks to keep feet firmly planted on the ground.

“There is no question, and you can’t in any way play it down, the win was a massive one for the club and the players but Roy Walker said to me at the start of the year that my most difficult job at Ballinamallard this year would be managing expectations and those words echo in my head again as that is what we will have to do.

“We all know the prize for the winner of the semi-final but I can’t allow myself to even think about that. This already is a massive, massive prize and I just want to focus on Larne on Saturday,” he said.

There is no doubt that both the Mallards and Warrenpoint, who are also in the semi final for the first time, will have been delighted with the draw as they avoided the big guns of Crusaders and Coleraine and both clubs will see this as a great opportunity to reach a first ever Irish Cup final

“Warrenpoint will be delighted with that draw, like ourselves, and both will be happy to have avoided Crusaders and Coleraine.

“Warrenpoint and ourselves are both rookies in this regards and it means that it is probably more of a level playing field than it would have been if we had got one of the big boys. It is going to be a big day for both clubs,” he added.

McConkey acknowledges that Premiership outfit Warrenpoint have an advantage in playing against the best in the country on a weekly basis although he does feel that the competitive nature of the Championship has helped this season.

“They are playing in the Premiership every week against quality opposition and at a pace and a tempo that is above what we play at. The Championship though has been very competitive and that has been good for our preparation for games against bigger teams. You seen that with Larne against Coleraine in the cup.”

And he believes that his side have the ability to hurt Warrenpoint.

“Warrenpoint on any given day can be excellent in the nature of their football and their ability to score goals but they have got vulnerabilities in their back line and I keep preaching that if we can get on the front foot, like against Portadown and Dungannon, we will cause teams problems.

“But we have to defend and have our block ready all the time which I think we have got better at,” he commented.

There was big celebrations by the Ballinamallard supporters when they came through the shoot out on Saturday and the Mallards boss was delighted to put ‘smiles on faces’.

“I have been talking about smiles on faces and there was certainly plenty about Dungannon smiling on Saturday. It was great to see and we had a great support up there. You could see going off the pitch what it meant to those people and it was great to be able to reward them.”

McConkey was also full of praise for his players.

“I have really enjoyed working with this bunch because there is a hunger and a desire to get better and that comes from the Jay McCartneys, the Richard Clarkes, the John Connollys and the Ryan Campbells who have been around the block and they have an infectious enthusiasm that is spread throughout the team.

“ I’m delighted that my players are getting the credit they deserve as they have shown a wonderful resilience and resolve in some very difficult circumstances this season,” he explained.

The Ballinamallard manager received plenty of well done messages after the game and one he got from former player Shane McCabe really hit the spot for McConkey.

“I got a text from a former player, Shane McCabe, which said it is ‘all about oneness’ and that probably summed it up. We were very much as one right throughout. Everyone wanted to do well for each other and at half time they weren’t happy with their performance and when they went out in the second half they got the goal and had another burst of energy and our fitness levels stood up to Dungannon. Whatever they had, they threw at us and the pleasing thing for us is that we dealt with that,” said Harry.

It is back to league matters though this week for the Mallards and a meeting with a Larne side who will be looking to clinch the title on Saturday.

“We know ourselves the reality of going up here and they will be hurting after the Coleraine cup game and will be keen to bounce back. They will be looking to make sure that there is no slip ups against us but we will hopefully play our part in what should be a good footballing day,” said the Mallards boss.