Ballinamallard Reserves have been awarded the Championship Development League title.

Darren Higginbotham’s Duck’s finished top of the table when an average points per game formula was applied and the manager feels it is just reward for the hard work and effort of his players over the course of the season.

“Winning league titles at this level isn’t the be all and end all, the be all and end all is getting these guys opportunities to get into the first team and once they get into the first team it’s about them sustaining their place in Harry’s first team squad. But, in saying that, I’m delighted for the boys. In terms of a recognition for the amount of effort they have put in throughout the year it is a just reward for the lads because anything we’ve asked off them this season they have done for us.

“We are lucky we have a very talented group and within that they are also a hard working group and these are the ingredients for success,” said Higginbotham.

And while Higginbotham has recognised that progression is the name of the game for Reserve football, he feels that gaining a winning habit will also stand to the players in the future.

“The bigger picture for these lads is to go on and have a successful Irish League career or even better if they can but getting that winning mentality and that habit of winning games of football and in turn winning leagues that is a good habit to get if you are a competitive sportsman. Hopefully they will be involved in league titles and cup finals at senior level on down the line,” he added.

And he believes that players within his squad are more than capable of making the step up but only when the time is right.

“It is important that they get their football education in first and then when the time is right introduce them into the first team squad when Harry sees fit. Players develop and improve at different rates, some players are ready to go up at 17 or 18 and some players are ready to go up at 20 or 21, it is just important to do it at the right time. In terms of potential throughout the squad to push on and at some stage be part of the first team squad we definitely have players who are ready to do that,” he said.