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How Crusaders squad is passing on hunger to ensure trophy success keeps coming, explains Owens


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Cup fever: Crusaders trio Jordan Owens, boss Stephen Baxter and Rory Hale get a close look at the League Cup

Cup fever: Crusaders trio Jordan Owens, boss Stephen Baxter and Rory Hale get a close look at the League Cup

Cup fever: Crusaders trio Jordan Owens, boss Stephen Baxter and Rory Hale get a close look at the League Cup

Jordan Owens is confident the Crusaders trophy-winning machine will rumble on.

The big striker has helped the north Belfast club to incredible success while maturing into one of the Irish League's greatest ever frontmen.

Crusaders' record goalscorer has certainly enjoyed the ride and he's not ready to step off the Seaview rollercoaster.

Every major trophy has been netted, including the Setanta Cup in 2012, the last year the Shore Road men captured the League Cup. Coleraine were conquered on that occasion when Chris Morrow's goal sealed a 1-0 win at the Ballymena Showgrounds.

It is just one of the many highlights of Owens' trophy-laden time at the Crues but he's hungry to make more memories.

The Bannsiders are once again the opponents in tomorrow's BetMcLean League Cup final at Windsor Park and the former Boys' Model student is confident Stephen Baxter's side can keep passing the big tests.

"The League Cup win in 2012 and Irish Cup success before that in 2009 probably set down a marker," said Owens.

"It was huge as the club hadn't won the Irish Cup in a while.

"You can see from the ins and outs of players that we've had big squads and the club has been building. The club is going forward and we are winning trophies every season. You can see that, and certainly the League Cup win in 2012 was another big stepping stone.

"It was a big Cup then in front of a big crowd and I was only coming into the team. From that experience you know what it takes to win trophies. I don't see why we can't go on and win more."

Owens is now a leader in the Crues team, a significant presence on and off the pitch, there to guide and lead by example - in defence as well as attack.

"When you are playing with Colin Coates and David Rainey, they pushed you on, and now I can help younger players but they are already hungry to achieve things," he added.

"If you are hungry you can get success. Every game feels like a Cup final and my job is to score goals and keep the team moving forward."

The Crues still have cherished memories from their last big final at Windsor Park, last year's Irish Cup success over Ballinamallard United when Owens settled nerves with an early goal in the 3-0 victory.

But it wasn't maximum joy for midfielder Rory Hale, who was an unused substitute on that occasion. Football can be cruel and the 23-year-old suffered a knee injury during the 6-1 success at Dungannon Swifts at the end of November - just when he was playing arguably the best football of his career.

"Everyone wants to play in a final and I was disappointed last year, but I've worked hard to come back from this injury and just need to develop match fitness," said Hale.

"Fingers crossed the rehab will keep going well. I wasn't targeting the final as a comeback. The recovery period for an ACL injury is roughly 12 weeks and I was back training within seven. I had it in my mind to be back for the split and a possible title challenge.

"It's not a bad time to come back but I did miss all the Christmas games. It was probably the best I'd been playing in my career leading up to the injury and possibly the longest I'd been in the Crues team. I was getting better and fitter and adapting to a different style than at Derry."

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