Ballymena United captain Leroy Millar admits he was stunned by the cruel nature of Saturday’s Samuel Gelston’s Whiskey Irish Cup final defeat to Crusaders at Windsor Park.
The Sky Blues, chasing a first blue riband trophy in 33 years, led 1-0 deep into stoppage time thanks to an early own goal from Robbie Weir.
But Josh Robinson levelled for the Crues in the 93rd minute and Johnny McMurray won it with virtually the last kick of the ball in extra-time.
Read more: Crusaders goalkeeper Jonny Tuffey credits his "eyebrow" for dramatic Irish Cup goal
“I’m speechless and we didn’t deserve that,” said Millar. “I thought the boys were outstanding and to come within two minutes of winning the Irish Cup.. I’m just gutted.
“That’s the word. Gutted. At the end of the day I wanted to get my hands on the Irish Cup and I didn’t get that. We were so close, yet so far.
“Our game plan worked really well and we just came up short two minutes from time. It’s hurting now, it’s hurting big time and I’m just absolutely gutted for the boys.”
Ballymena’s frustration was heightened by the fact they had two golden chances to double their lead long before Crusaders’ late fightback.
David Parkhouse went one-on-one with Crues No1 Jonny Tuffey after latching onto a stray pass but dallied while attempting to round the keeper and Billy Joe Burns got back to clear.
Ryan Waide also blazed over from 12 yards out after latching onto a Steven McCullough cross following a swift United break at the start of the second period.
Ballymena defender Ross Redmond said: “We probably needed the second goal. You need to be ruthless in an Irish Cup final and we just fell short.
“We probably shaded it in terms of chances, but chances don’t win you games, goals do, especially in an Irish Cup final.
“This one is going to hurt for a while. We were looking at penalties deep into extra-time and received another sucker blow, but overall we can be proud of our performance.”
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