Ballymena United 4
Distillery 0
League Cup (Round 1)

Ballymena United
4 - 0

League Cup (Round 1)
Tuesday, October 3rd, 2023
Ballymena Showgrounds
7:45 PM Kick-off

Fiontan O'Boyle (25)
Alex Gawne (30)
Jonathan McMurray (37)
Jonathan McMurray (46)

Team Managers
Jim Ervin
Barry Johnston

Starting Eleven
Sam Johnston
Scot Whiteside
TJ Murray
Lewis Tennant
Dylan Boyle
Fraser Taylor
Michael Place
Kym Nelson
Alex Gawne
Jonathan McMurray
Fiontan O'Boyle
Ethan Carry .1
Dean Lewis .2
Kyle Flynn .3
Conor McDermott .4
Jonathan Angus .5
Ryan Sharkey .6
Jonathan Newell .7
Joseph Tully .8
Jamie Devenny .9
Michael Gallagher .10
Justin Grattan .11

Sean O'Neill
Steven McCullough
John McGuigan
Donal Rocks
Marc Walsh
Noah Stewart
David Taylor
Curtis Woods .12
Ryan McNickle .13
Robert Geddis .14
Gledis Cakaj .15
Carter Savage .18
Adam McCart .19
Craig Robinson .20

Marc Walsh for Alex Gawne (65)
David Taylor for Fraser Taylor (65)
Noah Stewart for Jonathan McMurray (65)
John McGuigan for Dylan Boyle (72)
Ryan McNickle for Joseph Tully (45)
Curtis Woods for Ryan Sharkey (46)
Carter Savage for Dean Lewis (52)
Robert Geddis for Justin Grattan (63)
Gledis Cakaj for Kyle Flynn (63)

None. Michael Gallagher (15)
Dean Lewis (22)
Justin Grattan (45)
Curtis Woods (63)
Jonathan Newell (66)
Carter Savage (72)

Red Cards
None. None.
Match Officials

Evan Boyce (Referee)
Andrew Nethery & Gareth O'Donnell (Assistants)

Photography by David Hunter

Match Report

Ballymena United have back-to-back wins for the first time this season as they eased to a 4-0 win over Lisburn Distillery in the opening round of the BetMcLean League Cup at the Showgrounds on Tuesday night.

After a late winner at Dungannon on Saturday gave United just a second win this season, Jim Ervin made six changes as they got their League Cup campaign underway, including starts for Fiontan O'Boyle and Samuel Johnston.

Having already crashed out of the Toals Co. Antrim Shield this season to lower league opposition in Knockbreda, the hosts didn't want history repeating itself against Intermediate League side Distillery, but early on the visitors started the better. Inside the opening five minutes Scot Whiteside was forced to clear an effort from Michael Gallagher off the line, before the skipper turned a Ryan Sharkey cross towards his own goal, bringing a good save out of Johnston.

Eventually, the Braidmen calmed Distillery's attacking threat down and began to impose themselves, and after Johnny McMurray acrobatically struck well wide and Whiteside narrowly missed with a header, Ballymena went ahead on twenty-five minutes. Kym Nelson played a great switched ball across for Alexander Gawne, who in turn fizzed a fine ball into the box for Fiontan O'Boyle, who netted his first goal in Sky Blue as his deflected shot went through the legs of goalkeeper Ethan Carry.

Five minutes after the first, United had a second as they pressed home an advantage thanks to an impressive Gawne. A short corner from Michael Place found Fraser Taylor and he stood up an inviting cross to the back post, where Alex Gawne was waiting to squeeze the ball in past Carry to also mark his first goal for the club.

Just seven minutes later, the hosts all but ended the first competitive meeting between the sides in a decade as a contest as McMurray netted a fabulous third. TJ Murray latched onto a long ball before slipping a tidy pass into the path of Jonathan McMurray, and from the edge of the D he cut back inside and rifled an unstoppable effort into the back of the net.

The visitors had faded significantly after their bright start and would've been glad to see half-time, but just forty seconds into the restart they found themselves 4-0 down as Ballymena continued on out of sight. Taylor and Gawne were involved again as the former chipped a ball over the top for the latter down the left, and Gawne's ball across the box was on a plate for Jonathan McMurray who couldn't miss as he doubled his tally for the evening.

There was no letting up as the home side angled for more and when Taylor did well to find McMurray and he picked out O'Boyle with a super pass, the former Crumlin man dragged a decent chance just wide of the far post.

Come the final half hour or so the game really eased off as a spectacle with United home and hosed and Lisburn a beaten side. A host of changes for both sides further disrupted things, as a trio of Ballymena changes saw Marc Walsh introduced, as well as youngster David Taylor and weekend hero Noah Stewart.

The third tier side found a bit extra in the final fifteen minutes to try and grab a consolation goal, as Whiteside did well to clear before Ryan McNickle could tap in, before the same man curled a shot wide and Gallagher diverted home a cross from Robert Geddis, but rightly the offside flag went up.

O'Boyle almost added a fifth late on after a mistake by Carry, but the 'keeper did well to redeem himself and make a recovery save, as United settled for four in what is hopefully another confidence boosting win as they booked a spot in round two with a second win in four days.

Match report written by Philip McPeake (

Squad Statistics (as at October 3rd, 2023)

2023-2024 All Time
Sam Johnston (GK)27 1 - 8 -
Scot Whiteside26 12 - 1101
TJ Murray28 6 - 6 -
Fraser Taylor20 10 - 10 -
Dylan Boyle21 3 - 3 -
Michael Place25 9 - 696
Lewis Tennant19 6 - 7 -
Kym Nelson28 12 - 675
Jonathan McMurray29 11310935
Alex Gawne22 8181
Fiontan O'Boyle19 101101
John McGuigan (sub)30 11 - 11 -
Marc Walsh (sub)22 5 - 5 -
Noah Stewart (sub)19 2121
David Taylor (sub)17 1 - 1 -

League Table (as at October 3rd, 2023)

Pld W D L Pts
1. Linfield 10 8 1 1 25
2. Larne 10 6 3 1 21
3. Cliftonville 10 6 2 2 20
4. Crusaders 10 6 2 2 20
5. Glentoran 10 5 2 3 17
6. Loughgall 10 4 3 3 15
7. Coleraine 10 4 2 4 14
8. Carrick 10 3 1 6 10
9. Dungannon 10 1 4 5 7
10. Glenavon 10 2 1 7 7
11. Newry 10 2 1 7 7
12. BALLYMENA 10 2 0 8 6