Ballymena United boss David Jeffrey (©INPHO/Matt Mackey)

JEFFREY ADVISES DEFEATED SKY BLUES TO 'BANK THE EMOTION'

Speaking after Ballymena United's BetMcLean League Cup final defeat, Sky Blues boss David Jeffrey described how his disappointment at the result was tempered by the pride he felt in the performance, his players and the support from the stands.

"This was going to be a mountain to climb today but I really wanted a performance  I could be proud of. You know how difficult I find defeat but I can tell you now that this was as hard a defeat to take as I've ever had.

"I am absolutely gutted that we didn't win. I actually didn't think we played as well as we could in the first half but in the second half we stepped up to the mark and we were absolutely excellent.

"My disappointment is managed by the fact that we played so fabulously well. We fought like absolute tigers.

"Our support was superb and I've got to thank them. They came out in massive numbers and it was tremendous to see the number of people there today, including the amount of families.

"As down as I am with the result and as down as I am that we didn't win the trophy I can't be anything else."

Visibly emotional, Jeffrey paid heartfelt tribute to his players, told them to remember how the defeat felt and to call upon it when they had to.

"This group are the most unbelievable, dedicated group of young men. They gave everything. They keep me going. We should have won, we didn't. The stats will tell you that, but I'm proud. Very, very proud.

"It's another step along the way on our journey. I've told the players to bank the emotion, bank how they feel, put it in the pit of your tummy and then let it come out when you need to."

But Jeffrey also felt pride in how his players dealt with the bitter disappointment of defeat.

"Well done to Linfield. I was proud that my players stood, we didn't have anyone rushing off. They did the right thing, the professional thing, the correct thing.

"They obviously applauded our own supporters but they also applauded Linfield and that's what you do. When you're beaten you stand there and you be gracious in defeat."

Tags:  Ballymena United