Ballinamallard manager Harry McConkey emerged from the 4-1 victory over Ards feeling both relieved and optimistic, as the Ducks finally registered a league victory six games into the season. The pressure had been building on the team as they struggled to get their first win of the campaign over the line, but on Saturday at Ferney Park they finally got up and running in emphatic style.

“When you go into the sixth game of the season still looking for your first win you do get a little bit concerned, so relief is the obvious emotion but at the same time there is a lot of optimism too,” said McConkey. “It was a much more buoyant changing room after the game, and it was great to see the smiles on the faces of the supporters. That was a very nice feeling.”

The Mallards’ four goals was more than they had scored in their previous five league games combined, and it was that ruthless streak in front of goal that the manager believed was the key difference in their performance.

“In other weeks we had created similar chances, although maybe not as many, but we had not finished them off and this week we did, and that is what I was crying out for,” he said.

‘More purpose’

“I felt we played with a better tempo and with more purpose. In the wide areas with Caolan (McAleer) and BJ (Banda) we were getting a lot of joy and creating chances, and the difference this time was that we executed them, and we got that little bit of fortune that we were looking for.

“There have been games I thought we played very well in, including the Ballyclare game last week, and we came out the wrong side of the result. I’d like to feel the supporters enjoyed Saturday’s game and the fact we scored four goals of that quality, and a great mix of goals, also reflects on the game and how we were playing.”

Despite notching up a long awaited victory, McConkey is not getting carried away and knows the team have a lot of work to do if they are going to piece together a run of results that will lift them back into promotion contention.

“The result does not hide the fact that we were still too inconsistent within the game itself,” he acknowledged.

“I felt by half time we could have been out of sight, but we kept giving them oxygen by making individual errors at key moments which was unnecessary. That is something we must continue to work on. We won’t be getting carried away because the score line, and the last ten minutes, slightly flattered us.

“From a coach’s point of view, I recognised when we were getting beaten there were things that pleased us, and even when we win we still recognise that there are certainly things we still need to improve on. We need to be very conscious of that.”


It was a closely contested opening to the match before a Caolan McAleer wonder strike from 20 yards gave the Mallards the lead, but the manager was frustrated at the way his team let Ards back into the contest within 90 seconds.

“We had a great buoyancy when we scored,” he recalled, “I looked down to make some notes, and by the time I had jotted my notes down we had conceded!

“That frustrated me no end because we have to do better in those situations.

“The ball was allowed to come in far too easily and we didn’t really focus just after scoring, and we all know that is the most vulnerable time. That wee bit of naivety cost us again.

“At half time I told the players that the only thing that was stopping us winning this game would be ourselves and we needed to cut out individual errors.

“In the second half we presented them with an opportunity, and if they take that it is a different outcome, but we were causing them problems and the penalty came from sheer pressure, and Caolan is very sharp with his feet. Clearly it is a penalty kick and the execution by Shane was excellent. It came at a time when we needed it desperately, and then the two late goals were great.”


Ballinamallard will now be looking to build on that league success with another three points at H&W Welders this Friday evening.

The Belfast side have had a disappointing start to their season and went down 4-0 to league leaders Loughgall last Saturday, but McConkey is still expecting a tough challenge from the team that sit just one place off the foot of the Championship table.

“Welders had a bit of a disruption regarding losing their manager and they had made a very indifferent start to the season, but then they turned around and beat an Institute team that we drew with 5-0, so they are very capable,” he said.

“They have some experienced players like McLelland up front, and they can hurt you if you are not at the races, so we need to be ready for Friday night.”

Ballinamallard will go into the match without Mark Stafford who is unavailable, but the manager is hoping both Richard Clarke and BJ Banda can shake off knocks in time to be available for selection.