Ballymena United 2
Dungannon Swifts 4
League (NIFL Premiership)

Ballymena United
2 - 4

League (NIFL Premiership)
Saturday, January 13th, 2024
Ballymena Showgrounds
Attendance: 986
3:00 PM Kick-off

Michael Place (27)
Fraser Taylor (54)
Dean Curry (14)
Ben Gallagher (40)
Adam Glenny (45)
Adam Glenny (89)

Team Managers
Jim Ervin
Rodney McAree

Starting Eleven
1. Sean O'Neill
29. Sean Brown
11. Steven McCullough
31. Jamie Robinson
5. Scot Whiteside
28. Dylan Boyle
2. Kym Nelson
30. Michael Place
4. Donal Rocks
16. Fraser Taylor
27. Jonathan McMurray
Declan Dunne .1
John Scott .3
Dean Curry .4
Kealan Dillon .10
Steven Scott .12
Adam Glenny .14
Ben Gallagher .15
Cahal McGinty .17
Ladislau Leonel Ucha Alves .23
Andrew Mitchell .26
Gael Bigirimana .34

26. Sam Johnston
17. Andrew McGrory
21. Lewis Tennant
9. Cathair Friel
15. Fiontan O'Boyle
33. Noah Stewart
10. Ryan Waide
Alex Henderson .32
Caolan Marron .5
Chris Hegarty .6
James Knowles .8
Ethan Devine .9
Joseph Moore .16
Tomas Galvin .50

Noah Stewart for Michael Place (46)
Ryan Waide for Jonathan McMurray (80)
Fiontan O'Boyle for Jamie Robinson (80)
Cathair Friel for Scot Whiteside (90)
Caolan Marron for Cahal McGinty (69)
Chris Hegarty for John Scott (69)
Tomas Galvin for Ben Gallagher (69)
Ethan Devine for Andrew Mitchell (77)
James Knowles for Kealan Dillon (85)

Jonathan McMurray (62)
John Scott (31)
Cahal McGinty (52)
Adam Glenny (90)

Red Cards
None. None.
Match Officials

Raymond Crangle (Referee)
Bogdan Sfirloaga & Gavin Hegarty (Assistants)
Ben McMaster (Fourth Official)

Match Report

Ballymena United's early season set piece problems came back to haunt them as they suffered a damaging 4-2 defeat to league table rivals Dungannon Swifts at The Showgrounds on Saturday afternoon.

After comfortably progressing in the Irish Cup a week ago at Queens, United made four change for a huge clash at the bottom end of the table on Warden Street, with returns to the starting XI for Johnny McMurray, Kym Nelson and Sean O'Neill, while Sean Brown made his first start in Sky Blue.

On a fairly grey day weather wise, United started brightly and inside the opening thirty seconds were almost ahead when Mikey Place benefitted from slack Swifts play in their own box, but his shot was deflected over. After that quick start, things settled down, but on fourteen minutes, with virtually their first chance of the game, Dungannon moved ahead. It would be a sign of things to come as Ballymena were done by a set piece when a free kick from Leo Alves was met by Dean Curry, who nodded home.

The Braidmen reacted well to falling behind against the run of play and after McMurray had flashed a shot well wide from distance, a little more than ten minutes after conceding, United were level. A punt forward from O'Neill was wonderfully brought down and held up by McMurray, who found Place. The Irishman then played a fine one two with Fraser Taylor, who showed a great burst of pace to get in, and he slid the ball across goal back to Michael Place, who did the rest by finishing into an empty net.

After the equaliser it was Ballymena who remained in the ascendancy, with Dungannon creating next to nothing, but United's chances were somewhat limited too. Kym Nelson came closest to turning the game around when he volleyed over from inside the box after a dangerous cross from Steven McCullough, but four minutes from half time Dungannon retook the lead with what was a terrible goal to concede. An Alves corner was again met by Curry who saw his header cleared off the line by Brown, but from there it was a mess as Ballymena failed to clear their lines inside the six-yard box, and Ben Gallagher pounced to bundle the ball home.

Taylor almost spectacularly brought United level once more less than a minute after Gallagher's goal when a lovely turn and thunderous strike from the Scotsman was brilliantly saved by Declan Dunne, but in time added on the hosts found themselves 3-1 behind after another corner. This time from the opposite side, Kealan Dillon's delivery found Adam Glenny, who showed more want to win the ball than anyone in Sky Blue, and he flicked the ball home to double the Swifts advantage.

The home side now had a mountain to climb in the second half after a calamitous end to the first, and at the break goalscorer Place was replaced, as Noah Stewart was promoted from the bench.

The next goal simply had to go Ballymena's way and on fifty-four minutes that was the case as Taylor added a goal to his earlier assist to lift a frustrated home crowd. Donal Rocks and Brown combined well down the right before Brown crossed for McMurray in the box. McMurray saw his effort blocked at close range, but United appeals for a handball were soon ended when the ball fell to Fraser Taylor, who made sure of the finish by slamming the ball home.

A couple of minutes later United's momentum almost took them to a leveller when a corner of their own was met by Jamie Robinson, who saw a header cannon back off the crossbar, but that chance with half an hour still to go was really the end of Ballymena's openings. Much like the rest of the encounter, Dungannon were offering very little if it wasn't coming from a set piece, but bar Stewart firing well wide from well out, it was difficult to recall Ballymena creating anything, which was more than a concern given they trailed by a goal at home in such a key game.

Ryan Waide and Fiontan O'Boyle were introduced with ten minutes to go in two attacking changes, but on eighty-eight minutes Dungannon secured a massive three points with a fourth goal, incredibly from another free kick. Again Alves delivered, this time from the touchline down the left, and again Adam Glenny couldn't believe his luck as he was left free to cleverly divert a header into corner past O'Neill.

In time added on, it should've been five when substitute Tomás Glavin raced clear after more poor defending, though he could only slot wide, but four was enough to see Dungannon move six points clear of Ballymena, in what was a dismal, and possibly costly, day at the back for United.

Match report written by Philip McPeake (

Squad Statistics (as at January 13th, 2024)

2023-2024 All Time
Sean O'Neill (GK)35 26 - 89 -
Sean Brown18 2 - 2 -
Steven McCullough29 2712369
Jamie Robinson21 2 - 2 -
Scot Whiteside26 2811262
Dylan Boyle21 19 - 19 -
Kym Nelson28 22 - 775
Michael Place25 252858
Donal Rocks23 19 - 19 -
Fraser Taylor20 272272
Jonathan McMurray29 18411636
Cathair Friel (sub)30 6116871
Ryan Waide (sub)23 22313818
Fiontan O'Boyle (sub)19 181181
Noah Stewart (sub)19 196196

League Table (as at January 13th, 2024)

Pld W D L Pts
1. Linfield 25 20 2 3 62
2. Larne 25 17 7 1 58
3. Cliftonville 24 17 3 4 54
4. Glentoran 24 12 5 7 41
5. Crusaders 25 12 5 8 41
6. Glenavon 25 9 2 14 29
7. Coleraine 25 8 5 12 29
8. Loughgall 25 8 4 13 28
9. Carrick 25 8 3 14 27
10. Dungannon 25 6 6 13 24
11. BALLYMENA 25 5 3 17 18
12. Newry 25 3 3 19 12