IRISH CUP: Jamie Mulgrew hoping Linfield can banish four years of hurt with final victory

Jamie Mulgrew (right) celebrates Linfields 2012 Irish Cup win with Michael Carvill (left) and Mark McAllister (centre)
Jamie Mulgrew (right) celebrates Linfields 2012 Irish Cup win with Michael Carvill (left) and Mark McAllister (centre)

Linfield midfielder Jamie Mulgrew will be hoping to end four years of hurt in Saturday’s Tennent’s Irish Cup final.

The Blues last featured in the showpiece in 2012 when they romped to a 4-1 victory over Crusaders.

Mulgrew scored the fourth goal in the 83rd minute, helping secure a sixth double in seven years for the south Belfast giants.

It saw Linfield flex their muscle once again, but their dominance would soon come to a shuddering halt.

Cliftonville won back-to-back titles in 2013 and ‘14 before Crusaders followed up with a Premiership double of their own.

Glentoran claimed two Irish Cups (2013 and ‘15) with Saturday’s opponents Glenavon lifting the blue riband trophy in 2014.

Linfield’s only silverware success since that romp over Crusaders has been a County Antrim Shield win two years ago.

It has been a barren spell that Mulgrew hopes to banish on Saturday when Linfield take on Glenavon at Windsor Park.

“It is always exciting preparing for an Irish Cup final, especially when it has been some time since you last played in one,” the ??-year-old midfielder said.

“For me, personally, four years is a long time. It is too long for a club like Linfield not to be contesting an Irish Cup final.”

Mulgrew can boast a perfect record in Irish Cup finals, having won every one of the five he has played in.

A penalty shootout win over Dungannon Swifts in 2007 was backed up by a 2-1 victory over Coleraine the following year.

Mulgrew also featured in the 2008 win over Portadown, and successive triumphs over Crusaders in 2009 and ‘10.

“I have been very fortunate to play in five finals, and won all five,” he added.

“I hope that continues on Saturday against Glenavon.

“Every club sets out to win the Premiership at the start of the season, and the Irish Cup is the next target. We missed out on the title this year, but we have a chance to finish the season on a high note.”

The only other current Linfield player to have won the Irish Cup with the Blues is Aaron Burns, while Sean Ward, Jimmy Callacher and Andy Waterworth won it with Glentoran in 2013.

Guy Bates was also part of Glenavon’s 2014 winning squad.

Mulgrew believes David Healy’s Class of 2016 has the mentality to deal with the big occasion.

“People have questioned our character this season. People have said we are a bit soft and mentally weak. But I think we have proved them wrong,” Mulgrew added.

“We obviously lost four games on the bounce in November which hurt us, but I don’t think you can argue too much with our record since then.

“We lost just two league games out of our last 20 and pushed Crusaders all the way in the title race.

“We certainly turned a corner and a lot of credit should go to the manager and his backroom team.

“We are definitely on an upward curve, and hopefully we can finish the season with a trophy. It would be a great way to end the campaign, and give everyone a big lift looking ahead to next season.

“But we know we face a very good Glenavon side. They have established themselves as a top side in the Premiership, and they have quality and character in their squad.

“So we know Saturday will be a massive test.”