Belfast Telegraph

Glenavon skipper Kris Lindsay looks to make up for missed glory days

By Graham Luney

If Glenavon skipper Kris Lindsay hoists the Irish Cup into the air at Windsor Park on Saturday then even the most passionate Ballymena United fan will appreciate the sense of elation the former Linfield ace will feel at the end of a heartbreaking journey.

Lindsay's career has been ravaged by painful injuries – on too many occasions he has been on the sidelines watching pals savour the big occasion.

Even when he was at Portadown, Lindsay was left out of the matchday squad when Larne were put to the sword in 2005.

But he does have one medal which he cherishes – Linfield's 2-1 victory over Coleraine in 2008.

The injuries, though, have haunted him – so much so that he never though another Irish Cup Final would arrive.

"I was lucky enough to play in one final for Linfield against Coleraine when I wasn't injured!" said Lindsay.

"Throughout most of my time at Linfield it transpired that I missed most of this stage of the season.

"Whether that was a cruciate injury or a fractured cheekbone or something else it was difficult to take but I'm just glad to be back playing and it's been a long road back.

"It has taken me a wee while to come back from a second cruciate injury. It was difficult to feel normal again for want of a better word.

"I'm just thrilled to play in every game and I never thought another Irish Cup Final would ever happen.

"Once you leave Linfield and go to one of the other clubs, no disrespect to Glenavon, you don't think you will experience another day like this again. It would be very special.

"It would be right up there as one of my career highlights – any trophy win is special, people can say winning silverware with Linfield is not as rewarding but I don't agree with that.

"This would rank up there with anything we have done before."

Lindsay will have to lead by example on and off the pitch on Saturday. The match gets under way at 2.30pm but long before then the Lurgan Blues skipper and his experienced comrades must help guide younger players such as full-backs Rhys Marshall (pictured) and James Singleton through the showpiece battle.

"I think this is a special occasion for the young players in our team – guys like Rhys Marshall and James Singleton who are great prospects but they will never have played a game like this before," added Lindsay.

"There will be 8,000 fans, great colour and noise and how will the players deal with that on both sides?

"It's natural to be nervous and that's when the likes of myself, Winky (William Murphy) and Big G (Gareth McKeown), who have been there and done it, can help the players through it.

"Once you get through the first 10 minutes the nerves go and you are focused on the match.

"It is vitally important the experienced players in our side talk the younger ones through this experience."

While there is greater big match experience in the Glenavon panel, Lindsay is taking nothing for granted.

"I don't think there are any favourites in this game. In our three games we have won one, they have won one and the other has been a drab draw," he added.

"It will come down to who handles the occasion best.

"Ballymena United are a good side and we will need to be at the top of our game.

"They are strong at the back and have added experience with Steeky (Stephen McBride) and wee Jimbo (Jim Ervin).

"They are good going forward with the likes of (David) Cushley capable of producing something special.

"Ally Teggart has bags of pace and Darren Boyce has been banging in the goals for them."

He added: "There's nothing like an Irish Cup Final to get you excited – ever since we made it through the semi-final against Crusaders the boys have had a spring in their step.

"There has been that extra bite in training with players looking to get in the squad. Then you get measured for your suits and things become a lot more real.

"We are confident in our own ability but it will be a very tight game."

* Former Linfield and Ards goalkeeper Alan Blayney has confirmed he has signed a two-year deal with Glenavon.

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