Belfast Telegraph

McAree is urging his Swifts to be history boys

By Graham Luney

Dungannon Swifts manager Rodney McAree has challenged his players to go out and make a special bit of history tonight.

If the Swifts can overcome Ballymena United in the final of the BetMcLean League Cup at Windsor Park (5.30pm) it will be the Tyrone club's first major trophy success and the players will earn legendary status at Stangmore Park.

McAree will struggle to hold back the tears if his side can rock the Braidmen and it would certainly ease the pain of the Swifts' 2007 Irish Cup final loss to Linfield after a penalty shoot-out.

"It's something I have already asked them to do," said McAree. "I've told them to go and create a wee bit of history.

"I was fortunate to have played in our only other senior final and that was against David Jeffrey and Bryan McLoughlin's Linfield team in the Irish Cup final in 2007.

"We gave a great account of ourselves that day before losing on penalties but I would love these players to create history for this squad now.

"Losing that day was not a nice feeling at all and I don't want these lads to experience that.

"I still have fond memories in that it was a great occasion for us but I will put all parts of the experience over to the players.

"The fact that it was the first major final for Dungannon Swifts made it special no matter what, though.

"Leading us out in the final will be a very proud moment for me personally."

McAree, who had a four-year spell at Liverpool in his younger years, has been part of the fixtures and fittings at Stangmore Park for most of his life while his father Joe was also manager and a firm believer in nurturing young talent.

The Swifts haven’t been able to splash the cash like some but their commitment to the youth teams has reaped rich reward.

“I was born into Dungannon Swifts,” he reflected. “I found myself going to Dungannon Swifts ever since I could walk and probably before it, too.

“I can remember all the days of going to the likes of Brantwood and Chimney Corner, and being in the B Division and following my dad as the manager.

“I think back to glory days like Dixie Robinson chipping Robbie Beck in the final of the Mid-Ulster Cup and I think of Terry McCrory, who’s now our first-team coach, scoring a winning penalty kick against Ballymena in an Irish Cup replay.

“But I have to focus on the now. I’m extremely proud of the players and the progression we’ve made as a club.

“For us it is about trying to find consistency in the league but in cup football, we know if we perform it is going to take a very good team to beat us.”

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