Cliftonville and Glentoran battle for cup success
Strikers Andy Waterworth and Liam Boyce tell Stuart McKinley they plan to stay in the driving seat at Windsor
Stuart McKinley: What does it mean to you to be in the final of the Irish Cup?
Liam Boyce: In my first season at Cliftonville, in 2009, I had to sit on the bench and watch the team get beaten by Crusaders. I could see what it meant to people – seeing players frustrated and in tears after it. It shows how much it meant and we'll be trying to right the wrongs on Saturday. It would mean everything to us to win it. We've had a great season so far and we already have two trophies. To complete the treble and become legends at the club would be unbelievable.
Andy Waterworth: I feel very privileged to be in the final. It's the one spectacle that I would watch every year ever since I was young. My mates would watch the FA Cup final, but I would never miss the Irish Cup final and it's great to be in my first final as a player. I have mates who have played in finals and have winner's medals, they say it's the best day out and if you win it obviously it's the best day. To win it would be brilliant and I'd love to be able to say I've done it.
SM: Do you have any superstitions or lucky charms that you'll be taking into the final?
AW: I always put on my left sock and left boot before my right sock and right boot. I have tried to come away from superstitions, I found that I had too many and in the end I was concentrating more on superstitions than I was actually on playing, but that's one that has always remained. I like to go out third in the line too. It's Elliott Morris, Jay Magee and then me.
LB: I have too many to even talk about. I have certain places I like to stand in the changing room and walking out I like to have two people behind me in the line.
SM: Which of your team-mates will be the most nervous on Cup final day?
LB: Probably Joe Gormley because he's really quiet. He shouldn't be nervous after the last final when he scored two goals, but he is just that kind of person, he's often nervous. He must just thrive on it and play better because he was unbelievable in the final against Crusaders.
AW: Jason Hill. Although he's one of the most experienced players the way he approaches games he is very focused and very hard on himself. You can't always read what people are thinking inside, but he always seems to be the most nervous.
SM: What's your manager's favourite saying?
AW: Liam has probably heard Eddie Patterson say it when he was at Cliftonville. He always says: "There is an excuse for not playing well, but there is no excuse for not working hard." It's drummed into my head now.
LB: Tommy Breslin doesn't really have a catchphrase or something that he says all the time, but he always says 'hey' at the end of every sentence. Peter Murray always swears in every sentence.
SM: There has been a lot of speculation about where you are going to be next season. How do you deal with that?
LB: I try to ignore it. I don't read papers, but people still talk to me and say 'I hear you're going here, or you're going there.' I just take it as a compliment because obviously you are doing something right if people are wanting you and you're being talked about in papers.
AW: I'm flattered by the interest. I'm in a scenario where I'm coming to the end of the season and the end of a contract and there may have been no interest. I've said that I am going to wait until the end of the season. This is the Cup final and it's important that I have the right preparation and don't think about anything else.
SM: You have both played full-time football outside of the Irish League before coming back, did you come back a better player?
AW: I don't know if I came back a better player. I went away and I was very homesick. I maybe should have stuck it out, but I didn't and I came back and to go from a full-time professional set-up to come back to playing part-time took a long time to adjust.
I think it took me a long time, maybe two years to get back to where I was.
LB: I think I came back a better player technically and I use my brain more now. I have developed more physically because I was only young when I left, but coming from training every day to coming back to the Irish League, it took me six months before I was able to do anything. I couldn't kick back doors for six months.
SM: Is this the best season of your career?
LB: It's the best of my career to date, but hopefully there are some better ones to come.
AW: I'd say it's definitely my favourite year in football and I hope that scoring in the Irish Cup final caps it off.
SM: You are the only two players to have scored 20 league goals this season, will we get goals in the final?
AW: I think we are the two best teams to watch. Cliftonville are the benchmark this year and attacking wise they are very, very good. They have Liam Boyce and Joe Gormley and I think that Diarmuid O'Carroll is absolute quality too. They have options everywhere and they get goals from everywhere. I would hope that there are goals in the final and it's not one where it's built up for goals and it ends up a drab game – but I would take a 1-0 win or even a win on penalties.
LB: It seems like every match we've played over the last year has had a lot of goals in it and we average about four goals a game on Sky. We beat Glentoran 4-1 and they beat us 3-0 recently so it's all written for there to be goals. We have the best defensive record and theirs is good too, so hopefully we can keep a clean sheet and if we have to, we'll grind out a 1-0 win.
SM: Who's going to win the Irish Cup?
AW: We're going to go in very confident, but we will be underdogs. We are playing the champions and we will give them the respect that they deserve. I am confident that we can win it.
LB: On paper we've been the best team this year and people will expect us to run away with it, but Cup finals are totally different. They are pressure situations and it's about who handles the pressure the best.