Ryan O’Reilly is hoping an Irish Cup semi-final victory will go some way towards paying back the supporters who suffered the pain of Premier League relegation last season.

O’Reilly joined the club midway through that fateful season, but his first months at the club were disrupted by injury and he struggled to produce his best form as the Mallards finished at the foot of the table.

While many of the players moved on to different clubs, O’Reilly vowed to stay and fight in the Championship, and he has been rewarded with a place in the last four of the Irish Cup.

“I didn’t feel I had helped enough last season with injuries and my own performances, and I felt a little bit responsible for the relegation,” he revealed. “It wasn’t that hard a decision to stay and I have no regrets about it. When I first came to Ballinamallard I wasn’t too sure what to expect because it was my first time playing in the Irish league. In my short spell last year I didn’t get to play too many games, and I kind of wanted to prove a point to the club and try to help. I needed to get a good season under my belt and get a good run of games. I have been fortunate with injuries and I have been enjoying my football so much this season.”

Saturday’s encounter seemed an impossible dream earlier in the season when Ballinamallard were rooted to the bottom of the Championship table but O’Reilly always believed the players could turn their season around.

“After the Portadown game away when we lost 5-0 it seemed like it couldn’t get any worse,” he acknowledged.

“Our main priority at that stage was to stay up and then to get in the top six, which we did. The first couple of months we changed formation and we were unsure what the best formation was for us. I think the three at the back has suited us down to the ground and we have all pushed on in our own way and developed.

“Harry has helped us all individually and collectively with our games, along with Steve Feeney. We all knew we had the ability it was just about putting it in consistently in games and we are doing that now.

“I suppose since October we have defended well as a team and at the back. A cup run was always something we would have loved to have. We never really thought we would get to this stage, but we just took it one game at a time and it has got us this far. Hopefully we can go one more.”

O’Reilly has featured in Under 17 internationals for his country but Saturday’s match is the biggest of his senior career. Despite the occasion he thinks excitement rather than nerves will be to the fore at kick off.

“On the day I suppose people will get nervous, but we are looking forward to it more than anything,” he said.

“It is a big day for the club and a big day for all the players. It’s an Irish Cup semi-final and it will be a big occasion but there is not a massive amount of pressure on us. It’s just a case of going out and enjoying it and trying to get a result on the day. We know it is not going to be easy. They are a good side with good players and they are in the semi-final for a reason but we have been underdogs most of the season and each and every one of us believes we can perform and we can get the result.”