Belfast Telegraph

Coleraine old boy Lowry is relishing his final reunion

Dungannon Sw 0 Linfield 1

By Graham Luney

Stephen Lowry says he's relishing a shot at his old club Coleraine in the Irish Cup Final.

The Blues and Bannsiders will scrap for the top knockout prize in domestic football at Windsor Park on Saturday, May 6.

It's a repeat of the 2008 decider which Linfield won 2-0 and while the Blues haven't lifted the trophy since 2012, the Bannsiders' last glory day in May was the 2003 final when Jody Tolan's goal sunk Glentoran to bring the Cup to the north west for the first time since 1977 when Linfield were conquered 4-1 at the Oval.

Midfielder Lowry enjoyed playing for Coleraine chief Oran Kearney before moving to the Blues in May, 2014 and it was his 89th winner against Dungannon Swifts which blasted Linfield into another decider.

The 30-year-old saw keeper Andy Coleman save his spot-kick but he made no mistake near the end to keep the Windsor Park men dreaming of a League and Cup double.

"I loved my time at Coleraine, I had a great time there and they are a great club," said Lowry after the tense last four tussle at Mourneview Park.

"The chance to get revenge on Glenavon was taken away from us but Coleraine deserve their place in the final and I texted Oran to congratulate him.

"David Platt brought me to Coleraine from Limavady but I really blossomed in central midfield for Oran who was a huge influence on me. I'm really pleased for them getting to the final, it's an unbelievable story but of course we'll be out to beat them!

"We will be the favourites just like last year so we have to deal with that and not end up with egg on our face.

"Coleraine have been in great form but since they beat us we haven't been beaten. We are on a great run and credit to the players, we have had a consistent team but when you are at Linfield you are there to be shot at. If you lose a game it's a crisis and after the draw against Portadown we were so disappointed but we have hit back."

Goalkeeper Roy Carroll produced the game's one world-class moment when he stretched back to scoop away Peter McMahon's drive which took a significant deflection off Mark Stafford.

When Douglas Wilson felled Jamie Mulgrew on 51 minutes Lowry stepped up to take the penalty but keeper Andy Coleman made a stunning block.

The midfielder feared his spot-kick woe would come back to haunt him but in the 89th minute he manufactured a finish any striker would be proud of - a clever first touch created space and then he side footed the ball home.

"It was a roller coaster day for me but obviously I'm delighted we got across the line," he added.

"For the second time in two weeks it's a great feeling to get a late winner but it was a mentally challenging day for me as well. Missing the penalty in a big game was tough and I'm just glad I showed a bit of character and kept a cool head when the chance came to me at the end.

"The Linfield teams of old have done that for years, score late goals, and we want to be known for that and coming back to win. I had a feeling we would nick one but as time goes on you think again and Dungannon played very well.

"They frustrated us but we had more clear-cut chances and we're delighted to get into the final."

As for the penalty miss Lowry admitted he feared that wasted chance would come back to bite him where it hurts.

"The penalty miss was on my mind, no matter how much you try to forget about it," said Lowry. "Had we lost the penalty miss would have been a big factor but thankfully we didn't and I felt the relief in the end because it wasn't an error by me that cost us a place in the final."

Man of the match Chris Hegarty ended up on the losing side but he took heart from the Swifts' spirited showing.

"As disappointed as I am Rod asked us to leave everything out on the pitch and every player did that," said the former Linfield man.

"There are a lot of positives for us so we should feel too disappointed. Linfield are a top club and very well supported but we should feel very proud. We did what was asked of us and on another day that shot loops over Roy Carroll and we hold on for the win. But congratulations to Linfield and good luck in the final.

"Our fans were brilliant and we can't thank them enough."

Dungannon: Coleman, Hegarty, Wilson, Armstrong, Glackin, Mitchell, Harpur (Teggart, 90 mins), O'Rourke, Burns, Clucas, Burke (McMahon, 56 mins). Unused subs: Addis, Fitzpatrick, Lowe.

Linfield: Carroll, Stafford, Haughey, Callacher, Waterworth, Lowry, Burns, M Clarke, Mulgrew, Quinn (Millar, 77 mins), Smyth. Unused subs: Ward, Casement, Carson, Deane.

Referee: Keith Kennedy (Lisburn)

Man of the Match: Chris Hegarty

Match rating: 6/10

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