IRISH CUP FINAL: Linfield manager David Healy wants to make amends

Linfield manager David Healy

Linfield manager David Healy

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The mood in the Linfield camp could not be any better at the moment.

A 19-game unbeaten run and the return of the Gibson Cup to the Windsor Park trophy cabinet after a four-year absence has played a major part in that.

But they are far from finished. The Blues want to end the season on another high by lifting the Irish Cup with the hurt of last year’s final defeat to Glenavon at the forefront of their minds.

“I spoke to the players about it on the pitch during the week,” said David Healy.

“It’s not a nice feeling losing a final. It’s certainly not a nice feeling losing a final at Windsor Park, home of Linfield. The players are well aware we let ourselves down slightly last year.

“We started like a house on fire for 20 minutes and for whatever reason for 60 or 70 minutes after that, we underperformed and underachieved.

“We ended up finishing the season with no trophies, so if I was a player and part of that last year, I’d certainly want to turn up this year.

“People will ask ‘I wonder how Linfield will turn up in the cup final? Have they been out partying? Has the league trophy gone to their head?’ I can assure you, the players are ready to go.”

It has been a major turnaround for Healy’s side this season. They have won two of the three trophies they finished runners-up in last year.

“It would be quite a trunaround for the players because they have earned it,” said the Blues boss.

“You hope the players to bring in on a Saturday are mentally strong enough to get the job done.

“The players have to take huge credit this season because a lot of people wrote them off, saying they maybe didn’t have that wee bit to get over the line.

“They said maybe we weren’t as good as the Clean Sweep or double winning teams.

“I think it was Andy (Waterworth) who said on Saturday that sometimes at this club you live in the shadows of former great teams, players, captains and managers and everything else.

“Hopefully in two or three years time, if we are successful, people at Linfield might start talking a wee bit about these players.”

Healy has been in the game long enough to know though that cup finals are very different animals to other games.

And he is very aware of the threat posed by a buoyant Coleraine side who have already won at Windsor Park this season.

“They are a very good side. They are youthful and have got good energy and legs,” he said.

“They also have good experience in their team.

“When you look at the manager and assistant manager, they have won trophies galore as players, so it should be a good game.

“There was talk maybe last year that the knives were out, but fair play to Colin McKendry who had a vision not only in what he wants for his club, but also in his manager to be patient.

“With ourselves, they are probably the form team in the league. It will be tough.”