Loughgall’s Alan Teggart back at Ballymena ready for another Irish Cup adventure

For more than 15 years Alan Teggart has associated January with the start of another Irish Cup adventure.

It is a path which has taken Teggart from ties at the lowest level up to the highest point of two Irish Cup final appearances.

And as the 35-year-old reflects on a career closer to the final whistle than the first, Teggart is happy to embrace every memory provided by Northern Ireland football’s showpiece knockout tournament.

The pain of final defeats on the big day with Portadown and Ballymena United now, thanks to the passage of time, shares space alongside the joy of the journey.

Alan Teggart on duty for Loughgall. Pic courtesy of Loughgall FC.

A return to Ballymena today serves as added reward for Teggart’s decision to delay retirement and sign over the summer with Championship-based Loughgall.

“I started out as a winger then moved back to either full-back position but now play for Loughgall in the centre of midfield,” said Teggart. “I still get the same excitement from the Irish Cup, plus count myself lucky to still be in a position to play and can look back over so many previous ties.

“The goal is always the same - to get past that first hurdle and into the next round.

“I’ve been on the losing side of two Irish Cup finals...although you feel the disappointment at the time and it certainly sticks for a while, ultimately when I think back it’s all about the positive memories of those runs and the group of people.

“Back in 2005, I was coming up at Portadown and included in the squad for the Irish Cup final win over Larne, I wasn’t stripped out but just being around that group on the day and the celebrations all offered extra motivation and inspiration.

“I had been with Portadown from the under nines and broke through into the first-team squad properly the following season but will always remember that 2005 cup run and final day.

“Now I’m 35 years old and if looking back over my career then some of the best times came as part of squads on cup runs.

“You get a good run of Irish Cup results and it just creates a real buzz around a club for that season, then gives you a boost to push on down the line.

“The Irish Cup is great, it’s crazy to think this will be something like my 15th or 16th campaign.

“You always look forward to January and getting started in the Irish Cup, we all dream of going far.

“A knockout run is special, I’m still in a WhatsApp group with the lads from Dungannon Swifts from our League Cup-winning season in 2018.

“That 2014 run to the final with Ballymena United was a real standout season and just such a great group of players.

“When I left Portadown after being with the club for so long it was a big step but everyone treated me so well around Ballymena.

“It’s a wonderful club with so many great people behind the scenes and a passionate fanbase.

“Opting to keep on playing was definitely the right choice and moving to Loughgall has given me the chance for an Irish Cup tie now like Saturday.

“Loughgall suits me as it’s close to home but it’s funny how football works as when I was younger I used to go and watch my uncle, Dessie Edgar, play for the club.

“My brother Mark was also on the books for a spell at Loughgall, so there’s a family connection and, again, I have great memories from when Dessie played.

“The Championship is really competitive but so much work has gone in behind the scenes at Loughgall to challenge for promotion.

“But certainly everyone is looking forward to the challenge next of a Premiership club.”

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