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Irish Cup: Linfield won't let another golden chance slip away, says Lowry

By Graham Luney

Stephen Lowry believes the real Linfield will stand up in today's Tennent's Irish Cup final.

The Blues were left distraught after the decider a year ago when Glenavon recorded a deserved 2-0 triumph.

Goals from Andy Hall and Kevin Braniff rocked the Windsor Park men, who started the game brightly but couldn't assert their authority.

It was a devastating finish to the season for Linfield after Crusaders had secured back-to-back titles and earlier in the campaign David Healy's side had lost out to Ballymena United in the County Antrim Shield decider.

The mood is very different now at Windsor where the club's title drought is over and the Shield is back in the trophy cabinet.

Coleraine are the opponents today and Lowry knows his old club and good pal Oran Kearney will look to burst the Blues' bubble but the Linfield players are determined to show their true colours after the horror show last year.

"From a personal point of view, I felt we got caught up in the moment a bit in last year's final," admitted Lowry.

"Unfortunately we let it pass us by and it's clear we didn't take the golden opportunity that was in front of us.

"We never put our stamp on the game and despite a positive start, Glenavon got stronger and managed to get the job done. I'm confident it will be different because we have more leaders capable of standing up and being counted in the big games.

"We've shown that in the games against Crusaders this season and particularly in the County Antrim Shield final.

"The bottom line is that we are a better team than last season, we have tightened up a lot of aspects in our play and we are certainly stronger at the back with Roy Carroll showing his international class and the defence standing tall.

"We've had the best defence in the league and when you don't give away many goals you've a great chance of achieving your objectives."

Linfield and Coleraine are the two in-form teams and it's perhaps fitting that the showpiece occasion involves the two sides that have lit up the Danske Bank Premiership this season.

"Coleraine have been superb since Christmas but both teams have and I don't think either team will freeze in the final," added Lowry. "They have a young group but they won't show any fear."

• Shane McCabe has announced his retirement from football. The midfielder, who was at Ballinamallard United, also turned out for Portadown, Glentoran and Glenavon.

Crusaders defender Alan Keane is also hanging up his boots while Robert Garrett has confirmed his exit from Portadown with his next move is expected to be a return to Linfield.

Institute overturned a first-leg deficit to beat Ballyclare Comrades last night and will play in the promotion/relegation against Carrick Rangers.

Jamie McIntyre levelled the tie on aggregate with a cool right-foot finish on 16 minutes and Stephen Curry scored twice after the break. Jason Johnston pulled one back in the 85th minute to give the Comrades hope.

Institute will be at home in Tuesday's first leg against Carrick who finished one from bottom in the Premiership.

The second leg takes place in Carrickfergus three days later.

And Newry City AFC have been promoted to the Championship. A 3-1 win at Armagh City saw them win their two-legged play-off 7-1 on aggregate to sail through.

Meanwhile, Ashfield Boys' won the Belfast Senior Cup yesterday.

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