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Irish Cup: Linfield in much better place for this final, says Waterworth

By Alex Mills

Linfield’s Andy Waterworth believes his team are in a better place mentally ahead of the Tennent’s Irish Cup final against Coleraine at Windsor Park.

With the Premiership title already sitting in the Blues’ boardroom, along with the County Antrim Shield, the 27-goal striker is desperate to get his hands on the Irish Cup once again.

He has mixed emotions from previous finals. He was an instrumental member of the Glentoran team that lifted the trophy in 2013.

Waterworth hit a glorious double for the east Belfast team with another Linfield favourite, Jimmy Callacher, also on the scoresheet in the 3-1 win.

“Jimmy still gives me a bit of stick because I took the man of the match award away from him back in our 2013 Cup win,” quipped Waterworth. “But that gave me a taste of what it was like to win an Irish Cup final.

“It was a fantastic occasion. I used to watch the final on television when I was a kid, so to appear in the final, it was a dream come true.

“It’s not only about what happens on the day, it’s the razzmatazz, the hype and all the media interest leading up to the game. It’s a feeling I want to experience in a blue shirt.”

The champagne turned flat for Waterworth 12 months ago when they were beaten by Glenavon.

“It was a horrible feeling,” admitted Waterworth. “I actually think Glenavon scored against the run of play, but the rest is all history as they say. Goals win matches and they scored them.

“We had no excuses at the finish — it was a big chance missed. It’s one we all still regret.

We are mentally in better shape than before. The team has really gelled since the beginning of the year. It’s now something we are determined to rectify.

“Football owes us nothing. No team has any God-given right to win a final, so we’ll have to work for anything we get. We are prepared to roll up our sleeves and dig in when needed.”

Although the Blues recently racked up a thumping 5-1 win over the Bannsiders, Waterworth stresses it will be no advantage to his team.

“The league game is gone,” he added. “If anything, it will be more of a motivation to them —they’ll be hurting. We know what to expect from Coleraine.”

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