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Irish Cup Final: Caddell admits to seeing his name in lights

For 24 minutes on Saturday, Declan Caddell dared to dream that he had scored the winning goal in an Irish Cup final.

And it was a goal worthy of the occasion — a sweet volley that even Northern Ireland keeper Alan Blayney couldn’t keep out with his fingertips.

But this is Linfield, a club that don’t make a habit of losing Irish Cup games.

They could bring a player of the calibre of Jamie Mulgrew on to stamp his class on proceedings.

For Caddell, who shone in the Crues midfield alongside the impressive Aidan Watson, there are now bitter-sweet memories from the day.

His 54th minute strike rocked the Blues but the Premiership champions weren’t going to allow anyone to wreck their double dream in the club’s 125th anniversary year.

Predators Peter Thompson and Mark McAllister provided the killer touches to make blue the colour at Windsor.

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“It was a great goal and I enjoyed it but things didn’t go according to plan after that,” admitted Caddell.

“That’s why Linfield won the league title. They have the strength in depth which sets them apart from the rest.

“We knew they would come at us, all guns blazing, and we weren’t able to hold out and shut the door.

“We always believed we could win it and we were still comfortable after I scored but they overpowered us in the end.

“But we have been challenging for the league and cups so there is a lot for us to be proud of, including the fans who have been fantastic.

“Linfield didn’t threaten us a huge amount and, after we went ahead, I thought it was going to be our day but that’s football for you.”

As expected, Jordan Owens was in the wars, tussling with the Linfield rearguard but, on the one occasion he escaped the blue jerseys, Blayney did what he does best.

“We started the second half well and the goal had us believing we could do it,” said Owens. “But Linfield finished strongly. Declan (Caddell) has been outstanding for us and it was a great finish but now we have to take defeat on the chin.”

Owens, who was booked for diving in the penalty area, added: “Robert Garrett cut across me but I’ve no complaints about how the referee saw it. Our players thought it was a penalty but I’m not sure.”

Keeper Chris Keenan failed to scoop up a Jamie Mulgrew shot, allowing Mark McAllister to poke in the winner but Owens was not in the mood to apportion blame.

“Chris was super in the first half and made a wonder save from McAllister,” said Owens. “He was at fault in the 8-1 game but we are all disappointed and we win and lose as a team.”

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