Conaty steps off the sidelines and on to main stage

Shea Conaty (left) enjoys that winning feeling with his team-mates.
Shea Conaty (left) enjoys that winning feeling with his team-mates.

Calf trouble forced Chris Ramsey to pull out of the side during the warm-up just minutes before kick-off against Ballymena United.

A tactical reshuffle led to Sean Mackle dropping out of midfield and into the vacant right-back slot - with Conaty handed the responsibility of stepping off the substitutes’ bench.

It capped a memorable 10-day period for the Northern Ireland youth international following his three-game appearance in Holland during the under 17s’ European Championship elite qualifying schedule.

“You should always be prepared to step into the side when in the squad, although it was still a shock when Trevor Williamson came up to me with 10 minutes to kick-off,” said Conaty. “The other players offered me advice and I was nervous at the start then settled into the game.

“It was a brilliant experience to play in the Irish Cup semi-final.

You should always be prepared to step into the side when in the squad

Shea Conaty

“I got back from Holland last Wednesday so was at the final training session before the semi-final.

“Playing in the qualifying group was superb, basically some of the best players in the world at that age level.

“When the season started I was hoping to get just a few minutes.”