Ryan Harpur seeking continued Ballymena United progress as David Healy highlights pride at Linfield anniversary

Ryan Harpur (second left) celebrates his weekend goal for Ballymena United against Crusaders. Pic by Pacemaker.
Ryan Harpur (second left) celebrates his weekend goal for Ballymena United against Crusaders. Pic by Pacemaker.

Ryan Harpur’s role in the Ballymena United side may focus more on protection over progress but the experienced midfielder is hoping his weekend goal can spark a period of sustained forward momentum.

The former Dungannon Swifts captain made the switch to Ballymena Showgrounds in January but had his impact on the club’s memorable rise to last season’s Danske Bank Premiership runners-up spot disrupted by injury issues.

Linfield manager David Healy. Pic by Pacemaker.

Linfield manager David Healy. Pic by Pacemaker.

Seven appearances across the current campaign marks a significant increase in influence and he found the net against league leaders Crusaders on Saturday to secure a point.

“Since coming to Ballymena I’m more in front of the back four compared to getting forward when at Dungannon,” said the 30-year-old. “But in our system the midfielders get on the ball a lot as we try to get it down and play.

“Our players are not suited to a ‘route one’ style, we try to play in the right way by getting it down and passing.

“This is my first full season at the club after coming here in January then suffering a calf problem from February which kept me out basically for the rest of the season.

“But being involved in the European football really helped me this summer and one thing which has stood out has been the professionalism across the whole club.

“Playing under David Jeffrey was a big part of the appeal too at Ballymena and I’m enjoying it.

“It was a big goal really on Saturday against Crusaders to get us the point and we could even have won it.”

David Healy this week celebrated his fourth anniversary as Linfield manager and will go head-to-head with a past Blues boss against Ballymena in Jeffrey.

“I’ve never hidden the fact of how much managing Linfield means to me - the pride, no matter the game, in leading from the front as manager of this football club,” said Healy on the official Linfield website. “I want to win every single half, every 90 minutes and every competition.

“I’ve a strong belief in the staff and players who have been on this journey too across the past four years, hopefully, there’s another couple of chapters left.

“It’s gone in a heartbeat, it feels like only yesterday I was announced as the manager rather than 200-odd games, a few trophies, some success and some disappointment.

“I’m a young coach and manager learning on a day-to-day basis, so continue to try and improve and bring success to an already successful club.

“Ballymena United are a very good side with an exceptional manager who has been through everything four or five times longer than I have.

“They are in decent form, they caused us problems last year and we look forward to them coming to Windsor Park.

“It might just be the tonic to bounce back (from the midweek County Antrim Shield loss to Cliftonville on a penalty shoot-out).”

“On Saturday we will have Shayne Lavery back available again from Northern Ireland international duty, Bastien Hery should be back, Daniel Kearns and Jordan Stewart are close, Chris Casement is probably another week away.”