Belfast Telegraph

Motivation not an issue for Crues, says Owens

Glory boy: Crusaders striker Jordan Owens celebrating the 2009 final success over Cliftonville with Gareth McKeown
Glory boy: Crusaders striker Jordan Owens celebrating the 2009 final success over Cliftonville with Gareth McKeown
Crusaders striker Jordan Owens after this season’s Irish Cup win at Linfield

By Steven Beacom

Crusaders legend Jordan Owens insists that the Seaview men won't take Championship outfit Ballinamallard United lightly in tomorrow's Tennent's Irish Cup final at Windsor Park.

Indeed, the message from record goalscorer Owens is if anyone is not up for the Cup then they shouldn't be in the Crusaders dressing room.

It's that sort of attitude that manager Stephen Baxter will be demanding tomorrow, knowing full well that while the Fermanagh men play in a division below, they are dangerous opponents.

Just ask top flight Dungannon Swifts and Warrenpoint Town, who were beaten by the Mallards in earlier rounds.

"If you can't get yourself up for an Irish Cup final, you may as well not turn up," said forward Owens, such a key figure in the Crusaders line-up.

"It's a big game for the club, it's a big occasion and it's probably the best day out of the whole campaign.

"Our aim is always to win the league but in terms of a one-off occasion you can't beat the Irish Cup final, and if you can't get up for that there's no point being in our dressing room.

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"It is going to be a tough game. We are mighty favourites but Ballinamallard are a good side.

"They may have started off badly in the Championship this season but they have progressed and obviously have done really well to reach the final.

"They have some very good players including Richard Clarke, who used to be at Crusaders. He is a top player and a top guy as well.

"I enjoyed playing alongside Richard.

"He likes to get on the ball and he was always able to find you in the box and I'm sure he'll be out to make Ballinamallard tick on Saturday.

"The Irish Cup is a trophy we haven't won in a long time and we have to be ready for this final and I believe we will be."

Owens was in the Crusaders team the last time they clinched Irish Cup glory 10 years ago in a 1-0 victory over Cliftonville.

He feels having overcome Glentoran, Linfield - when he scored a stunning goal - Ballymena United and Coleraine to reach this stage there is great motivation to now finish the job.

"We haven't won it in a long time and this season we have gone through the hard way, putting out a lot of tough teams, so if we win it would be very special," said the 29-year-old former Northern Ireland international.

"The last time we played in an Irish Cup final I had a bandage on my head after clashing with Winkie Murphy in a game the week before.

"To score in an Irish Cup final is something that I'd love to do, and with players like Paul Heatley and David Cushley, hopefully chances will come our way.

"Paul and myself have played a lot together and David has got his chance this season and been superb. He has popped up with some amazing and some important goals.

"It used to be me, Paul and Gavin Whyte, and now we have David in there and it is an exciting front line."

For the Owens family, it will be a magical day with not just Jordan involved but his brother Kyle as well having made the move to Seaview from Ballymena United last summer.

"It will be a big day for our family with Kyle and myself involved," added Jordan.

"He joined Crusaders to win trophies and I know how much he wanted to get into the Cup final.

"Kyle won the League Cup with Ballymena but this is even bigger."

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