Belfast Telegraph

Full-time switch has helped Cushley reach new level

David Cushley
David Cushley

By Graham Luney

It remains to be seen whether Crusaders will maintain their new full-time culture designed at securing sustained success but there's no doubt that one player who has certainly taken his game to a new level is David Cushley.

The former Ballymena United ace, who lost out in the 2014 final to Glenavon, looks like he's in the form of his life but he's too modest to admit it.

Players are at their best when they are enjoying their football and 'Cush' has transformed himself into a smiling assassin.

Ahead of today's Irish Cup final against Ballinamallard United, the stage is set for him to show why he's one of the best players in the league.

Along with midfielder Jordan Forsythe, Cushley has been one of the Crues' shining lights this season and it was fitting he scored the late, dramatic winner in the County Antrim Shield final against Linfield.

"The full-time football suits me," he said. "Working 9-5 and training Tuesday and Thursday night, and with a family, it is tough.

"This season I have really enjoyed the whole full-time football thing and working as hard as I can. I worked my way into the team and I seem to be doing well. I have scored some important goals, but we have others in the team who can do that. Hopefully that's the same on Saturday.

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"I don't know if I am playing my best football - that's for other people to decide. I am enjoying it. Once you go onto the pitch everything is forgotten about. Hopefully I am playing my best football."

The 29-year-old has unfinished business with the Irish Cup. "I haven't won the Irish Cup," he added. "It is the only one missing. So I am buzzing. The minutes leading up to the final seem like hours.

"But Saturday will deal with itself. We will train and get our work done and then ease off.

"I remember the Ballymena Utd v Glenavon final. It was hard to take. Ballymena did well to get there, we had a hard run.

"It is never nice losing, but the whole day is special. Anyone who has played in it describes it as the biggest day of the season. I loved the whole build-up, but we just didn't get the result."

Defeat would be devastating for the Crues, who would then have to raise themselves for a European play-off.

"You always have that fear of failure, but you have that in life," added Cushley. "Everything leads to us trying our best, and hopefully that's good enough.

"In our heads, it is just another game of football. The run we have gone on to get here, it couldn't have been any tougher.

"Ballinamallard are the same, they beat some good teams to get here. And for a Championship club to reach the final is great. They deserve it.

"When we started the season off we have the same talk as far as expectations go. You always want to be challenging for every trophy.

"We are disappointed with the league finish, but we have done well in the cups."

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