Crusaders’ Paul Heatley determined to banish memories of trophy setbacks

Crusaders' Paul Heatley
Crusaders' Paul Heatley

Crusaders midfielder Paul Heatley admits his team have endured their fair share of cup heartache this season and he wants to put that right at Windsor Park on Saturday.

When Stephen Baxter’s team walk out alongside Glenavon for an Irish Cup semi final confrontation, they’ll be determined to erase the memory of their defeats by Cliftonville and Linfield in the final of the League Cup and County Antrim Shield, losing both on a nerve tingling penalty kick shootout.

“I think it was the manner on how we lost made it even worse,” recalls Heatley. “When it comes to penalty kicks, it’s basically pot luck, but it doesn’t make it any easier in terms of disappointment

“It’s now important to get that out of our system: winning the Irish Cup would be the perfect way to do that.”

Even though minnows Queen’s University were in the semi final draw, the Crues were handed possibly the toughest tie off the lot, but Heatley states: “It doesn’t matter who we were drawn against. If you are going to win the cup you have to beat the team in front of you.

“We have the chance of a real strong finish to our season. We have hardened our position in the league table.

“We are now five points above Portadown, so the third place in the table is within our grasp.

“With that comes the prospect of European football next season. That’s vitally important to the club in general, financially and on the pitch,” he added.

“But it would also be fantastic to finish the season with a trophy and the Irish Cup presents us with that chance. Those previous cup defeats are still haunting us in their own way, so it would be great to get our hands on a trophy; it would also be reward for our supporters who have been fantastic this season.”

The former Carrick Rangers player has netted 14 times this season and is targeting more before the end of the season.

“I would have liked to have been around the 20 mark, but there are potentially six games remaining.”