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Irish Cup final: Ogilby is all fired up to seize shot at glory

 

By Graham Luney

David Ogilby has waited a long time for his glory moment in Irish League football and he doesn't plan to let it slip from his grasp.

The Coleraine captain was part of the Bannsiders team that lost the 2012 League Cup final to Crusaders, but on Saturday he could get his hands on the Tennent's Irish Cup - if Oran Kearney's boys conquer Linfield.

The boys from the north west haven't tasted Irish Cup glory since 2003 and the current crop of heroes, who have steered the club to a Europa League place, can add their names to the history books.

A Cup final place and European qualification wasn't dominating thoughts when Coleraine endured a rough time in December, but a stunning 17-game unbeaten run has created a fearless approach at the Showgrounds. The squad may be youthful but Linfield will not underestimate the threat posed to them.

For 32-year-old Ogilby, he senses that his day in the sun has arrived and the years spent fighting against the odds have earned him this glorious opportunity.

"It will be an amazing feeling to lead the team out for an Irish Cup final," said the centre-back, who will wear the captain's armband in the absence of the ineligible David Kee.

"I've been in the league a long time, 14 seasons now, and I haven't been lucky enough to play in an Irish Cup final yet.

"It's a moment I'm going to cherish with my family watching on from the stands.

"But it will only feel good afterwards if we have a positive result.

"One of the reasons I signed for Coleraine was because I wanted to play in Cup finals, so I didn't think it would take seven years to achieve that.

"The last time Coleraine played in an Irish Cup final was 2008, that's far too long for a club like this, so as a group of players we need to make this the norm and not the exception.

"We all know what it means to the town to be here. If you didn't, all you have to do is take a walk up the Ballycastle Road, it's full of blue and white flags, it's plain for everyone to see what it means to everyone.

"With social media too it's hard not to be aware of it, I can assure you as players we are fully aware of the significance.

"The 2003 Cup-winning side are still talked about 14 years later, now we have an opportunity to be talked about in the same way in years to come."

The younger players such as Lyndon Kane and Brad Lyons have claimed plenty of the spotlight at the Showgrounds and that suits Ogilby, who is happy to see the fresh faces weave their magic.

"It's great as no one is really talking about us older players, it's all about the young lads!" he said. "It's a pleasure to be involved with them. There's six or seven of them who have been playing over the last couple of seasons, and they are all good enough.

"As an older player we need the young players, we need their energy and their legs, and they need us to have a word in their ear and help them out when they need it.

"I think Oran (Kearney) has tried to strike a balance and he seems to have done that well this year.

"He took a bit of flak at times over the last couple of seasons when he was blooding the young lads when results suffered, but it was short-term pain. They have all 80-90 games behind them now, so it was worth it.

"When I was a young player I remember you were allowed to make mistakes, and with that brings freedom.

"We have seen that freedom this year.

"When I was 21 I knew I could make a mistake and I wouldn't have got a rollicking for it so you could play without pressure.

"As an older player you have to lead by example and not have any mistakes."

Linfield have just been crowned league champions, and their record of 43 out of a possible 45 points when the pressure was on to stay in the title race commands respect.

David Healy's side are a formidable force but Ogilby believes the Bannsiders can cause an upset.

"We have beaten every team in the league this year, so we know on our day we can beat anybody," he added.

"We won at Windsor back in January so we know we have it in us.

"We recognise we have a huge challenge on our hands, but it's one we believe we can overcome.

"I think it's only ourselves and Linfield who have beaten every team in the league this year, that brings a confidence.

"We have every excuse in the book if we wanted.

"Linfield are 20 undefeated, they have won the league, they are on the crest of a wave and they beat us 5-1, but we're not looking for excuses.

"The defeat happened, it's not ideal, but I don't think come 2.30pm on Saturday it will have any bearing on the game.

"The slate is clean, we know that, and it will be a very different team come Saturday."

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