Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 30 August 2014

Carson will go into decider with a heathly desire

Stephen Carson wants to impress on Saturday

Stephen Carson has a simple wish for Saturday's Irish Cup final against Cliftonville – to be a picture of health.

The talented winger was feeling under the weather when Glentoran faced Portadown in the final four clash at Windsor and was replaced by eventual matchwinner Marcus Kane in the 75th minute.

Glens fans are now hoping that the Ballymoney man has been nursed back to health and is ready to inflict pain on Tommy Breslin's side.

When he's fit and firing, there are few better players in the league than the 32-year-old who won one Northern Ireland cap against Italy in 2009.

If the Reds backline gives him time and space to float in one of his dangerous deliveries, the men from the east could have the final say.

"I was sick before the game against Portadown and in the last few weeks my level of performance has not been near where I'd hoped them to be," admitted the former Coleraine winger.

"Now it's about the final training sessions and giving a good account of myself in the final.

"They are the favourites but our feelings now are a hell of a lot better than when we went out against Newington last season."

Glentoran's march to the Irish Cup final only serves to further highlight how embarrassing their exit from the competition was in January, 2012.

But Carson isn't alone in remembering that heartbreak. Elliott Morris, Sean Ward, Jason Hill, Jim O'Hanlon, Jimmy Callacher, Richard Clarke, Andrew Waterworth, Martin Murray and David Howland know the feeling. The road to redemption ends at Windsor on Saturday. Carson tasted despair in the 2008 final when his Coleraine side crashed to a 2-1 defeat to Linfield with Peter Thompson hitting a brace.

But if there's one player who can write a fairytale ending to a troubled season at Glentoran Football Club then it's the former Rangers and Dundee United man who possesses a magic left foot.

"I think at the start of the season most people would have thought we would finish in the bottom six but we ended up fourth in the league and getting to an Irish Cup final is a huge bonus," he added. "It is a satisfying feeling but now having got this far you really want to go on and win it.

"It's going to be very difficult because Cliftonville have been flying all season.

"But it's a cup final and in that sense it's a 50-50 game.

"It's all about who plays better on Saturday.

"We have been looking at our fitness and passing ability and it's all about doing the basics right."

• Glenavon have signed former Glentoran and Crusaders striker David Rainey on a one-year deal.

Portadown winger Mark Patton has also agreed a one-year deal with the Lurgan Blues while Republic of Ireland junior and amateur international winger Adam Foley has signed on a one-year amateur contract.

A number of Glenavon players have re-signed including keeper Andy Coleman for two years.

Others agreeing one-year deals are Marc Brown, Kris Lindsay, Andy Kilmartin, Andy McGrory, Kyle Neill and Conor Hagan.

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