NI League Cup final: Ballymena Utd 2-0 Carrick Rangers

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NI League Cup: Sky Blues overcome Carrick in decider

Ballymena United are celebrating winning the NI League Cup for the first time after deservedly beating Carrick Rangers 2-0 in the final at Seaview.

Allan Jenkins put David Jeffrey's side into the lead with a low shot just before half-time.

Carrick felt they should have had a penalty when TJ Murray was charged off the ball by Conor McCloskey.

It was McCloskey who made sure of the coveted silverware by blasting in a superb injury-time strike.

Ballymena bossed the game but Carrick squandered a chance to take the lead when TJ Murray skied over from close range.

The opener came a minute before the break with Willie Faulkner providing the cut-back for Jenkins to sweep the ball into the bottom corner.

United continued to dominate in the second half and it required a superb save from Brian Neeson to keeper out Tony Kane's free-kick.

Rangers rarely threatened but they made a late push for an equaliser and Adam Salley headed over before their penalty appeals were turned down for the push on Murray.

McCloskey cracker

A brilliant strike from McCloskey, arrowing the ball into the top corner from 20 yards, sealed the victory.

It meant another major success for manager Jeffrey who won 31 trophies during 17 years with Belfast club Linfield.

Jeffrey took over as United boss in March 2016 and has steered them to fifth place in the Premiership table and also into the quarter-finals of the Irish Cup.

David Jeffrey celebrated a major trophy win after less than a year in charge of Ballymena United
David Jeffrey celebrated a major trophy win after less than a year in charge of Ballymena United

Referring to his assistant, Brian McLaughlin, Jeffrey said: "Brian and I had great success at Linfield but this is a new chapter in our football career.

"I am absolutely delighted for the players and the board. I'm overjoyed for the supporters - that atmosphere was absolutely rocking and they deserve it.

"I am so thankful, it means an awful lot."

Carrick manager Aaron Callaghan said: "The game was a fantastic advert for the local game and it was a terrific match.

"I'm so proud of our lads but the foul was the most blatant penalty I have seen all season.

"I can't understand it and it's not good enough. Referees need to stand up in these big games."

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