IRISH CUP FINAL: Young lads must embrace the occasion says Winkie Murphy

Coleraine assistant manager Winkie Murphy
Coleraine assistant manager Winkie Murphy

Winkie Murphy is the perfect man to help Coleraine’s young stars ahead of the Irish Cup final.

The big defender played in nine finals winning the competition an incredible eight times during an illustrious career.

Now as his role as Assistant Manager he is preparing the Bannsiders for the showpiece final against his former club.

“The final will be a new experience for the lads,” he said.

“There’s a few of us here including myself, Steven Douglas, Oran and Skinner (Eoin Bradley) we have experiences of finals and it’s about the young lads embracing the occasion because it can go in the blink of an eye.

“You just have to step back and evaluate everything, you get your suits, then get on the bus, get photographs taken, walk on the pitch, take in the crowd but winning the Cup is the most important thing.

“I thrived on nerves and it probably made me the player I was.

“I didn’t experience extreme emotions but there are butterflies inside, every player gets it – if you don’t it’s maybe time to stop.

“I even get it now and I’m assistant manager but we can pass on our experience and hopefully the lads will enjoy it and take the occasion comes, but when the first whistle sounds it’s down to hard work.

“My first Cup final I lost against Glentoran when Michael Halliday scored the winner in 2001.

“I was told by Joel Taggart that David Jeffrey had never won an Irish Cup winner’s medal and I was 30 when I lost my first one and that stuck in the back of my mind.

“I knew how much it hurt and I said to myself afterwards ‘I don’t want to feel like this again’.

“I was fortunate to be involved in many more finals and win them.

“It’s all down to the players, we are not blessed with a big squad like the top teams have.

“We have a lot of homegrown players who are enthusiastic, hard working and just want to play football which is great.

“I’ve been very impressed with the young players.

“I think there’s as many as seven players in our team who are 21 or under and they are flourishing as regulars, in the first team week in week out. It’s the way provincial clubs have to operate.

“It’s been a brilliant experience at Coleraine for me, first class. I see a lot of David Jeffrey in Oran.

“He is very methodical and always the first on the training pitch.

“He is heavily involved in every aspect of the club and it’s great to see.

“It’s been a great year, from pre-season you always dream of Cup finals and European places so to get there is special.

“We want the lads to enjoy the day but we want to win the Cup.

“It is an awful feeling when you lose the Cup and I don’t want the boys to feel that.

“Linfield are a good side - the league champions - but we will go there and give them a game.”