Belfast Telegraph

It doesn't get much better than scoring in Cup final, says Lowry

Not satisfied: Philip Lowry (far left) wants to taste more Cup glory
Not satisfied: Philip Lowry (far left) wants to taste more Cup glory
Philip Lowry

By Graham Luney

Playing in an Irish Cup final is an honour but scoring on the big day is a real privilege.

Midfielder Philip Lowry is one of the few players in Crusaders' Cup final squad who has cherished that feeling.

Wearing Linfield colours and playing in his first Irish Cup decider in 2010, he netted against Portadown in a 2-1 victory for the Blues.

His Crues team-mate Declan Caddell scored in the 2011 final as the north Belfast side lost 2-1 to Linfield.

A year later, Colin Coates was on target in a 4-1 loss to Linfield.

And Michael Carvill, who has been on loan at Dungannon Swifts, is the only other Crusaders player to score in the showpiece game - for Linfield in that 4-1 victory over the Crues.

"I've played in three finals and scored in one," said Lowry. "It's an amazing feeling to score in a Cup final, it was my first final and it turned out to be the winner.

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"The Irish Cup final is the marquee day and the one you want to score in. Every young player aspires to that and Cup finals can be strange affairs, sometimes scrappy. The odd goal can nick it and we will expect a tough game.

"It doesn't get much better than scoring in a final. Family and friends will be supporting me, and from a neutral perspective it's nice to have Ballinamallard there as the underdog story. Hopefully the fans come out in good numbers and we can put on a good performance for them."

The County Antrim Shield holders are expected to blow away the Championship side, who have progressed to their first Irish Cup final.

But Lowry is expecting a tough test and he's determined to avoid what could be one of the biggest disappointments of his career.

"I'm experienced enough now to know that you can be on the end of a real upset if you don't deliver on the day," he added.

"Ballinamallard will be looking to cause a major shock but we won't be treating them lightly at all. They gave us a really tough game in the League Cup, we needed to score two late goals and Harry (McConkey) is a great manager who will have their team well prepared.

"We will have to out-think and outwork them if we want to win the trophy. They have already beaten two Premiership teams on the way to the final and will be hoping to make it a third.

"Ten years is a long time for this club not to have won the trophy and I can remember playing for Institute against Crusaders in the semi-final in 2009, and the Crues were a good physical Cup side who beat us easily.

"There's a great razzmatazz about the final but at the end of the day it's only a great day if you win the trophy.

"If we lose it will probably be the biggest disappointments in our career and it will be difficult to recover from it. It doesn't bear thinking about.

"We want to go into the history books for the right reasons. A Cup win would be very nice because there are a lot of good people at the club and it's a tough league campaign.

"It would be nice to give the fans something to cheer at the end of the season."

Crusaders' title defence was disappointing but the Irish Cup run has offered them an opportunity to finish the season by lifting silverware and snatching a Europa League place.

"It's been a weird ending to the season, we fell away badly in the league and all our focus turned to the final which affected our league form more," added Lowry. "We haven't been good enough and there has been a lack of consistency. We've been conceding soft goals and getting poor results.

"The manager made it clear weeks ago that all our eggs were being put in the Cup basket.

"We have to be fully focused and ready. We've had injuries and suspensions to worry about and it's not always easy to switch your form on. We are favourites but the final won't be easy and we must perform."

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