Belfast Telegraph

Irish Cup campaign can spark Linfield league revival again, says Lowry

 

By Jonathan McNabb

Stephen Lowry insists Linfield are hungry to turn their season around as they aim to retain the Tennent's Irish Cup.

The Blues face Ballymena & Provincial Intermediate League side Glebe Rangers at Windsor Park in the fifth round tomorrow, but Lowry insists Linfield won't be taking anything for granted as they go into the game as overwhelming favourites.

"We won't be taking Glebe lightly as it's simply 11 vs 11 and they will have nothing to lose," Lowry said.

"As the Cup holders, we are the scalp that everyone wants.

"We want to retain our trophy and turn our season around given our latest run of results in the league."

David Healy's men were in a similar situation last year, but the momentum gained from victories in the Irish Cup transcended into pipping Crusaders to the Danske Bank Premiership title.

"Realistically, this time last year the Irish Cup was our best chance of earning silverware," admitted Lowry.

"We beat some good teams on our way to the final, which helped us keep the momentum going as we chased Crusaders.

"After the disappointment of losing the final the year before, we were determined to put it right, and we had a settled team who were confident and knew we were going to win before we went out.

"We realise that the Irish Cup is our best opportunity to lift a trophy this season, and we will fight hard to ensure that it stays at Windsor Park for at least another year.

"However, we still have the belief as a squad that we can see an uplift in our league form."

Lowry put in an excellent performance in last year's final against former club Coleraine, but hopes memories from that day can inspire Linfield to success again.

"We were highly confident and on a long winning streak before the Cup final last year," said Lowry. "The league title took the pressure off us and it showed on the day as we embraced the occasion.

"I felt for the Coleraine players as it isn't nice to lose a final, and I'm sure they will use that as motivation to push on. They have already started this season where they left off last year."

The fixture could provide debuts for January recruits Kurtis Byrne and Achille Campion, but 31-year-old Lowry is concentrated on his own performances.

"I admit I don't know a lot about our new signings, but they come with good reputations," added Lowry.

"From my point of view, I just need to concentrate on getting back to the levels of performance I set for myself last season."

Glebe faced Linfield a couple of years ago, and boss Jason Wilmont said: "That was a brilliant occasion for the players and it will be an even better one this weekend because (Windsor Park) is now finished.

"We'll just try and contain them as much as we can. We'll give it our best shot."

- Linfield have announced midfielder Aaron Burns will not be offered a new contract by the club next season and will be made available to clubs during the January transfer window.

Glenavon, Ballymena United and Larne are all interested in the 25-year-old, who has eight goals in 22 appearances this season.

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