Belfast Telegraph

Linfield ace determined to end his Shield wait

By Graham Luney

Linfield, already full of Christmas spirit, will allow Glentoran to take their mind off financial troubles by winning the County Antrim Shield this evening.

If you believe that, you will also believe that the Irish economy is in a healthy state!

That’s not the way they do business in south Belfast.

Linfield have already let one trophy slip through their grasp this season when they were dumped out of the Co-operative Insurance Cup by Newry City and that penalty shoot-out misery will make them even hungrier to bring the Shield back to Windsor for the first time since 2006.

The Glens may be fighting for their survival in the middle of a financial crisis, but that won’t occupy their minds when hostilities are resumed at 7.45pm tonight.

The men from the east will never be underestimated in a Big Two clash, particularly in a cup final.

And for Blues midfielder Jamie Mulgrew, who is available again after serving a two-match ban, he has his own motivation to succeed.

“The County Antrim Shield is the only trophy I have not won and it’s bugging me, it drives me on,” said the former Glentoran midfielder. “Cliftonville and Crusaders beat us in two finals and I have to put that right.

“Every Big Two match has huge importance to the players and fans, they’re extra special and the form book really does go out the window. I know Glentoran have their problems off the pitch, but they have been there for some time and those situations can bring people together.

“We went through a rough time about this time last year and it united us and made us stronger.

“Scott Young has his players working harder for each other and they are fighting together.

“When you are going through a rough patch it’s important to pull together.”

Linfield, who have won the County Antrim Shield a record 41 times, are on a high after opening up a five-points lead over Glentoran in the title race.

Manager David Jeffrey will be quietly confident his men will bring their shooting boots with them on this occasion, after the Big Two clash at the Oval in September finished scoreless.

Glentoran will need to keep Peter Thompson quiet if they want to get their hands on the giant trophy — easier said than done, as Thommo has already netted 20 goals this season.

“People were questioning Peter Thompson when he came back home from England and wondering whether he could recapture his form with Linfield,” added Mulgrew.

“I found all of that laughable. People were putting him under pressure, but he’s producing some of the best football of his career, with 20 goals to his name and we aren’t even near Christmas.”

Linfield will be without the suspended Robert Garrett and Michael Gault. The game at Windsor Park (7.45) is all-ticket and will be played to a finish. There will be no tickets on sale at Windsor Park tonight, though they will be available from the Superstore until 5pm.

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