A Ricky Higgins brace was the cornerstone of Ballynure Old Boys’ comprehensive Ballymena Intermediate League win against Dunloy.
Josh McIlroy also got his name on the scorecard at Mossley where the 3-0 win enhanced Ballynure’s position at the top of the table, especially on an afternoon when main rivals Newtowne and Brantwood both dropped crucial points.
Higgins (inset) opened the scoring in the 15th minute with a simple tap-in after midfielder Simon McGreevy threaded the ball through the defence.
Dunloy survived a series of corners, before falling further behind, when goalkeeper Ryan Stewart’s long punt up-field was flicked on by Higgins to McIlroy who drilled the ball in to the net.
Stewart came to Ballynure’s rescue when he pulled off a thrilling diving save at the expense of a corner after a visiting striker had burst through the middle.
In the second half Dunloy continued to be mainly on the defensive, but conceded only one more goal, when McIlroy beat the offside trap and then squared to Higgins who doubled his tally.
“Even without Paul Hughes, Robert Watson, David Higgins and the Curlett brothers we were always in control and never looked like losing,” stated manager Gary Burns.
“David Officer, Andy Forsythe and Ricky Higgins who have all played at a higher level with Ballyclare Comrades were all outstanding, and if we could reproduce this form consistently our title hopes would soar,” he added.
Ballynure OB: Stewart, Penny, Leckey, Forsythe, Officer; S Duff, Robinson, M Duff, McGreevy; R Higgins, McIlroy. Subs: R Burns, Armstrong, Moreland, Kane.
Ballynure have a chance to stretch their lead at the top of the table on Saturday when they have a league game against Chimney Corner in Antrim, while title rivals Brantwood and Newtowne are involved in Irish Cup ties.