Belfast Telegraph

'We didn't nick it': Queen's University deserved Irish Cup shock win over Linfield, says boss

Queen's boss Peter Thompson celebrates his side's win over Linfield.
Queen's boss Peter Thompson celebrates his side's win over Linfield.
Queen's Marc McKenna celebrates his goal against Linfield. Photo Laura Davison/Pacemaker Press
Gareth Hanna

By Gareth Hanna

Queen's University manager Peter Thompson says his side's victory over Linfield was no smash and grab.

Marc McKenna and Jonah Mitchell were on target as the Championship side earned a 2-1 win, pulling off one of the all-time great Irish Cup upsets against the reigning Danske Bank Premiership champions.

"We did not just shade or nick this game," the boss told Radio Ulster. "We deserved to win and all credit to the players. I'm beaming with pride. They were absolutely outstanding."

McKenna's curler had given the hosts a half-time lead but Linfield substitute Shayne Lavery made an instant impact, heading in the leveller with half an hour to go.

At that stage, the Blues would have been expected to kick but instead it was the hosts who rallied to go back on the offensive.

When the winner arrived, it came via the spot as Mark Stafford was adjudged to have handled in the area while tussling with an attacker.

For Thompson, the decision to award the penalty was spot on.

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"I would say week in, week out, the managers complain about the officials but I thought the assistant was brilliant with his decision," he explained.

"The referee didn't see it and didn't give it. It was the assistant that communicated it. Fair play to the officials. On behalf of the club, we love the officials in the Irish League and may they enjoy their evening as well."

The game was played in front of a crowd of only 350 as Queen's insisting on holding on to the home advantage they had been handed by the draw, rather than swapping the tie for an bumper pay-day at Windsor Park.

"It took a lot of work leading up to the game to get it played at The Dub," the boss said. "This club has worked tirelessly to achieve senior status. We were drawn at home. I find it baffling why people would question why we wouldn't move it. I don't get it.

"It's a brilliant day and a tough job getting these players' feet on the ground."

One of those players, of course, is midfielder Ben Mulgrew, who helped to oust not only the team he supports, but brother and Linfield captain Jamie.

"It was a strange feeling," he admitted. "It's not every week you get to play against your brother. It was enjoyable as well. It's a bitter sweet moment when you win and your brother's on the losing side, me being a Linfield fan as well. It's a very proud moment for Queen's and I'm very glad to be involved in it.

"I'll leave it a few days (before talking to Jamie). We haven't spoken in the build-up to the game either but we'll maybe speak next week."

Former Linfield manager David Jeffrey back his old side and current boss David Healy to bounce back from the surprise result with a fully firing league title challenge.

"Having done the job for 17.5 years, I know only too well the demands and expectations," he said.

"Sometimes the unexpected happens. I know that David will be disappointed, as will the players and supported but sometimes when you go out of the Irish Cup, it really focuses you for the league. I've no doubt David will pick the players back up, they'll be rejuvenated and they'll see if they can win the league title again.

"So yes it will be disappointing but this competition is littered with shocks. Sometimes these things just happen. You get up, you dust yourselves down and you go on."

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