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Lynch is hoping his Cup pedigree can inspire Larne

By Graham Luney

Larne boss Tiernan Lynch is hoping his boys can savour a taste of Irish Cup magic.

Weather permitting, the Championship side will take on Ballymena United at the Showgrounds in a derby fixture that has really captured the imagination of supporters.

Lynch was part of Eddie Patterson's coaching team when Glentoran lifted the prize in 2013 and 2015 but knows steering Larne to the trophy would be an even bigger fairytale.

Fairytale seems an appropriate word for events in Larne as the club is receiving heavy investment after multi-millionaire businessman Kenny Bruce took control.

Experienced players Chris Ramsey, Ciaran Caldwell, Conor Devlin, David McDaid, David Scullion, Martin Donnelly and Thomas Stewart have been added to their ranks and Ballymena know they are in for a battle.

Lynch knows how it feels to grasp the top knockout prize in domestic football and now he's hoping some of those memories will inspire the Inver Park outfit to an unlikely Cup triumph.

"I've been lucky enough to win it twice at Glentoran and I've been sharing those experiences with the players in the hope that they will embrace some of that magic and be inspired to play the way I know they can," he said.

"I trust they will give a good account of themselves. We have a few players who have played in big finals and won league titles and hopefully that experience can come to the fore.

"The boys have been working very hard and our preparations have been good. The boys are really looking forward to it but you can't start reaching the conclusion we are favourites to win the tie given United's recent results.

"If you look at the stats, David Jeffrey has a phenomenal record of winning this competition and his Ballymena United side have progressed to many finals and won the League Cup last season.

"We are under no illusions how difficult it is going to be but this is an exciting opportunity.

"The club is in a good place, we have a full-time commercial manager, new owner and our profile is building. We've had good luck messages from all over the world but of course from a football perspective we are big underdogs. I want our players to enjoy the experience and appreciate the value of the Irish Cup."

Ballymena skipper Jim Ervin says his side have little time to dwell on recent poor form.

"We will need to show our mettle because they will treat it like their Cup final," said the former Linfield favourite. "It's going to be a very tough game but it's an opportunity to get back on track. In some matches, including the League Cup final, we just didn't turn up and it's hard to understand that.

"It's important we don't dwell on our poor form and focus on what we still want to achieve and hopefully we can make it to another Irish Cup final."

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