Ballinamallard manager Harry McConkey believes that the Irish Cup quarter-final draw at home to Ballymena United is one that both sides will be satisfied with.

The Ducks booked their place in the last eight with a 5-2 win to Knockbreda on Saturday with the draw pairing them against David Jeffrey’s Premiership outfit.

“I think it is a good draw for both teams. Ballymena will see it as a great thing to have avoided some of the bigger boys and will fancy themselves down here. The Irish Cup means a lot to that club and having lost the County Antrim Shield final in the manner they did they will be trying to put those things right.

“For us, it’s a home game, no matter what round you are in, you want a home draw and you also want games like this for our players to be playing Premiership opposition with a good crowd and a good atmosphere. The players should be relishing that game at the end of the month. The unfortunate thing for Ryan Mayse is that he is ineligible as he is on loan from Ballymena,” said McConkey.

On the win over Knockbreda, McConkey admitted that it was not a vintage performance but they achieved their goal which was progression.

“We had at times unsettled ourselves by doing silly things but the lovely thing was that we had gone away from home, scored five goals that were all executed really well and we’ve got ourselves in the last eight of the Irish Cup so you can’t be too hard on your players on a day like that.”

The cup though now will be put to the back of the minds as the promotion battle continues in the league with the Ducks facing a tough test away to Newry City on Saturday.

“There will be no problem putting the cup to bed now until it comes round again. We have Newry City now on Saturday and Darren Mullen knows that if his lads are going to challenge then they are going to have to push on now. He made some very shrewd signings during the month of January and they will be in very good shape.

“They are a team that everybody would have fancied at the start of the season to be right up there at the top and they will want to now push on,” commented McConkey.

So far the sides have one win apiece in the league against each other this season, both going the way of the away side and McConkey says the win they enjoyed away to Newry was one that really kicked his side on.

“They beat us at home here with a very late sickening goal in a very closely fought match. Then we went down there and the game was in the balance until late in the second half and I think we won 3-1 in the end. That was a statement win for us and I remember at the time that we had a fantastic attitude that day and nothing less than that will do,” he added.

And the Mallards boss feels that a win on Saturday at Newry would be another momentum builder for his side who have dropped seven points in their last three league games.

“Our last three league games almost felt like defeats and yet we had two draws in them and then we had the win on Saturday in the cup and that in anybody’s book is not a crisis. But at the same time we know we have to get momentum again and I feel that we have another notch to go in terms of level of performance but we need to do that soon.”

Ballinamallard are five points adrift of leaders Portadown going into this weekend but they now have Loughgall breathing down their necks with the Villagers only two points behind them having won their game in hand last week against HW Welders.

And McConkey stresses that given the nature of the league, they can only afford to focus on the next game and look no further ahead.

“We were obviously delighted to progress in the cup last week but then we found out that Loughgall had won and are now only two points behind us.

“That is how fine the season is balanced and you literally have to take it one game at a time and you have to work so hard in every game in this league whether that is grinding or playing at your best. It’s a tough league,” he concluded.