Europa League: Managers David Jeffrey and Paddy McLaughlin happy with teams

Bui Egilsson of NSI Runavik and new Ballymena signing Declan Carville in action at the Showgrounds
Bui Egilsson of NSI Runavik and new Ballymena signing Declan Carville in action at the Showgrounds

Ballymena United manager David Jeffrey and Cliftonville boss Paddy McLaughlin praised their players after impressive performances in the first legs of their preliminary round Europa League ties.

Ballymena beat NSI Runavik 2-0 at the Showgrounds while Cliftonville drew 0-0 away to Welsh outfit Barry Town.

"We've given ourselves a chance. That's all we've done. We are going there with an opportunity," said Jeffrey.

"Avoiding defeat away in Europe is a good result," enthused McLaughlin.

"We are disappointed we didn't win the game as we created plenty of chances and dominated the match for large spells but no matter who you are playing 0-0 away from home is a good result," added the Reds manager.

Both Irish Premiership sides will collect around £190,000 for reaching the Europa League but that could rise to £410,000 should they successfully build on their first-leg performances and make the first qualifying round.

Swedish club Malmo await the winners of the Ballymena-Runavik encounter, with FK Haugesund of Norway the next opponents for either Cliftonville or Barry Town.

Conor McMenamin and Rory Donnelly both went close for Cliftonville but the tie is finely balanced ahead of next week's return at Solitude.

"We'll take plenty of confidence and plenty of positives from our performance and look forward to the second leg next week," explained McLaughlin.

"The weather had a major impact on the game and the players were finding it difficult to breathe because of the heat. It did slow the pace of the game down.

"You have to give both sets of players all the credit in the world because they gave it everything they had and in those conditions it was difficult."

Clean sheet 'massive' - Jeffrey

Second-half goals from Leroy Millar and Jude Winchester earned Ballymena victory against their Faroese opponents on a sun-kissed night on Warden Street.

"The players worked tremendously hard. It was a tough evening but I am delighted," said Jeffrey after the game.

"The clean sheet was massive. I said to the players at the start of the evening that the first objective was a clean sheet. Anything over and above that was a bonus and thankfully we got two goals.

"We have laid a good base but we are not getting carried away. Getting into Europe is an achievement in itself - anything after that is tremendous."

The Ballymena boss knows the tie is far from over and believes the Sky Blues' opponents will go into the second leg on their home ground with confidence.

"I have been to the Faroe Islands on a couple of occasions and talking to their manager he is not perturbed by getting beaten here.

"He is quite confident that they will turn it around and if I were him I'd probably be saying the same.

"That's our first competitive game and they have had 14 or 15 now so they will fancy themselves."