IRISH CUP FINAL: Linfield’s Jamie Mulgrew ready for showdown with Coleraine

Linfields Jamie Mulgrew lifts the Danske Bank Premiership trophy
Linfields Jamie Mulgrew lifts the Danske Bank Premiership trophy

Linfield captain Jamie Mulgrew has challenged his team-mates to make their own history come Saturday.

The Blues are no strangers to League and Cup doubles, they have already racked up 23 in their illustrious history.

And Mulgrew wants this current squad to follow in the footsteps of the Windsor Park greats by following up their incredible league win with an Irish Cup success.

“We want to make history and win another double,” he said.

“We used to do it year after year. To go four seasons without winning a league title hurt this club, so now that we have won the league again we are desperate to stamp our authority on things again by winning the double.

“Saturday is an opportunity for us to do that.”

It has been tough for Mulgrew in recent seasons as he watched on as other clubs helped themselves to the major honours.

But that hurt, particularly last season’s Irish Cup final defeat to Glenavon, proved to be a motivating factor for the newly-crowned Ulster Footballer of the Year and his team-mates.

“It still irks me when I think about last year,” said Mulgrew.

“Getting beat was bad enough but the performance, both by me as an individual and the team collectively, was terrible. We were a shadow of the side that had finished the league so well.

“It raised the old questions; Did we have the bottle? Did we have the character to win big games and major trophies? To be honest, we didn’t have that character. Results proved that.

“This year we have changed that. We are bigger and stronger men now. We have learnt from their experience.

“Last year we came second in the league and we lost in the final of the County Antrim Shield and the Irish Cup.

“Well this year, we have won the league and we have won the Shield, so if we can win the Irish Cup on Saturday, we will have answered all those questions.

“The previous captains at this club that have lifted the Irish Cup are iconic figures, to be on that list would be very special.”

Many are expecting the high-flying Blues to come out on top in Saturday’s showpiece final, but Mulgrew has been in the game long enough to know finals are different from any other game.

“Irish Cup finals are never easy,” he said.

“Our 4-1 win over Crusaders was relatively easy in the end, but the other finals I played in were all very difficult.

“I remember us being behind to Crusaders the year I was on the bench. I remember us being behind to Coleraine at half-time back in 2008 before going on to win.

“They are always rollercoaster rides. The fact we beat Coleraine 5-1 two weeks ago will have no bearing on the cup final.

“For me, the cup final gives Coleraine a fresh start. That form goes out the window. Their young players will have no fear.

“Coleraine will have fantastic support there. I think it has all the ingredients to be a brilliant final and a wonderful occasion.”