IRISH CUP: Linfield defender Jimmy Callacher aware of expectations ahead of massive clash

Jimmy Callacher was on the scoresheet for Glentoran in the 2013 final
Jimmy Callacher was on the scoresheet for Glentoran in the 2013 final

Defender Jimmy Callacher knows only too well the requirements that come with pulling on a Linfield jersey.

The 25-year-old has been brought up on a recipe of success, having supported the Blues since his boyhood days.

Having lived in the shadow of the impressive new stadium that has emerged in south Belfast over the past two years at Windsor Park, Callacher admits it will be a dream come true when he troops out onto the lush playing surface in Saturday’s Tennent’s Irish Cup final against Glenavon.

“I live around the corner, on the doorstep of the stadium, so when I joined Linfield I had a fair idea of the baggage, in terms of winning trophies, that comes with being a player at this club,” said Callacher.

“I knew what is expected before I signed on the dotted line, because I used to be one of the fans that turned up, week in, week out, to support the club.

“But at the end of the day, I came to win trophies. Unfortunately, it hasn’t happened so far, through one reason or another. Hopefully we can start that process on May 7.

“I don’t have to hear it from the fans – the demands are always there.”

Callacher could hold the key to what has the making of an intriguing struggle between two in-form teams.

He looked on in admiration in the semi-finals when Glenavon turned over double title winners Crusaders in a fantastic semi-final clash.

Even though they fell behind on three occasions, Gary Hamilton’s team bounced back to claim a famous win. Talisman striker Kevin Braniff was the tormentor in chief.

He produced a one-man demolition act, grabbing four fantastic goals to help the Lurgan Blues claim a place in the final for the second time in three years.

“He’s a class act as he showed in the semi-final,” admitted Callacher, who has been the recipient of a number of personal awards from Linfield Supporters’ Clubs in recent weeks, with the Billy Meikle Trophy taking pride of place on his mantlepiece.

“Kevin has been doing that it in the Irish League now for many years. But I’ve marked him before. It’s something I’ll relish. It’s a challenge I’ll look forward to.”

Callacher has happy memories of his last Irish Cup final appearance. He was in Glentoran colours on that occasion – and he got on the scoresheet in the 3-1 victory.

But it was a certain Andy Waterworth who grabbed all the headlines as he netted twice to deprive the Reds of a league and cup double.

“I was going to be a hero, scoring to put us 2-1 in front, until Andy went and scored our third, which took all the gloss away from my goal,” chuckled Callacher.

“Obviously, I don’t score that many goals, so to do it in an Irish Cup final was special. But it was Mr Waterworth’s day. It’s a dream pulling on a blue shirt for this final. It would be amazing if I got the winner this time.

“Seriously, I don’t care who scores, just as long as we lift the cup.”