Belfast Telegraph

Steel and Sons Cup final: Linfield Swifts' young talent out to stop Newington repeat

Steel & Sons Cup final

Up for the cup: Managers David Dorrian and Conor Crossan get their hands on the Steel and Sons Cup trophy
Up for the cup: Managers David Dorrian and Conor Crossan get their hands on the Steel and Sons Cup trophy

By Steven Beacom

Newington manager Conor Crossan is relishing another Steel and Sons Cup final against Linfield Swifts having created history against the same opposition on Christmas Day two years ago.

In the 2017 decider, Newington claimed a 1-0 success over the Blues and, in doing so, collected the famous trophy for the first time.

Padraig Scollay was the goalscoring hero and is still with the Premier Intermediate League outfit, who this year have been celebrating their 40th anniversary.

If their last December 25 success was Newington's greatest day, another victory over Linfield Swifts tomorrow at Seaview would rank alongside it.

Boss Crossan is overjoyed to be back in the final so soon, though believes his team are in for a tough test against Linfield Swifts.

"It was Newington's first final in 2017 and we were underdogs," said Crossan.

"It was a great occasion to get to the final and you think only one opportunity would come along for us to win it, but we have fought our way back to another final.

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"We will be as confident as we were in 2017 but Linfield are a very good side and I'm sure they will have belief too. We just want to come home with the trophy again."

Newington edged past Belfast Celtic on penalties in the semi-final, having previously knocked out Shankill United, Sirocco Works, Holywood and Ballymoney in the competition.

Linfield Swifts have overcome Islandmagee, Albert Foundry, 18th Newtownabbey OB, Crewe United and Larne Tech OB to reach this stage.

Manager David Dorrian, a respected figure in the game like his opposite number Crossan, believes nerves got the better of his team a couple of years ago.

He's hoping his young guns show exactly what they can do this time around.

Dorrian has some of the hottest prospects in Northern Ireland at his disposal, including 16-year-old Charlie Allen and Dale Taylor (15) who are both being chased by Premier League clubs in England. Another teenage talent, Trai Hume (18), will captain the side.

All three have been included in David Healy's first team at various times this season.

"David Healy, Ross Oliver and Darren Murphy are massive supporters of all the young boys that we look after," says Dorrian.

"We all work closely together and the support David and the staff give us is unreal. They are fantastic.

"We coach development, where you are trying to develop players for the first team, and they tell us not to worry about results and that they want the best players playing as high as possible, which is why we have 15- and 16-year-olds in our squad.

"You preach development all year and then you come to a Cup competition where it is about winning, so the Steel and Sons has been a bit different for us.

"This competition gives the players an edge because they know they have to win to stay in it. It's great experience for them to play against older boys and men.

"We have had to play Amateur League teams, Mid-Ulster teams and Intermediate teams to get to this stage and, to be fair, the lads have coped fantastically regardless of their age and experience.

"We are easy on the eye and that's important to me. We work very hard in training to try and play the same way as the first team.

"Teams look at us and they probably think they have to be physical against us, but I like us to stick to our guns and play good football. Nothing would please me more than to see us winning and playing well at the same time.

"Last time we reached the final we played well in the semi-final and quarter-final and were favourites to beat Newington, but it never worked out like that. There were nerves on the final day.

"Hopefully we can show what we are all about in this decider."

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