Belfast Telegraph

'This is the biggest prize': Glentoran target two-in-a-row as Linfield aim for double joy in Irish Cup final

 

Cup glory: Linfield captain Kirsty McGuinness (left) and Glentoran skipper Jessica Foy ahead of tomorrow night’s Big Two Irish Cup Final at Windsor Park
Cup glory: Linfield captain Kirsty McGuinness (left) and Glentoran skipper Jessica Foy ahead of tomorrow night’s Big Two Irish Cup Final at Windsor Park

By Stuart McKinley

Glentoran Women's League Cup final hero Demi Vance is hungry to turn what has already been a good season into a great one by getting her hands on the Irish Cup.

With a team full of big-game players, the Glens also added the County Antrim Challenge Cup to July's League Cup success and now stand just 90 minutes away from a second successive Women's Challenge Cup success - and an eighth since the Irish FA inaugurated the competition 15 years ago.

The major motivation for Vance and her Glens team-mates as they prepare to face Linfield Ladies at Windsor Park tomorrow night, however, is to finish the season on a high after seeing what was at one stage a quest for a four-trophy clean sweep evaporate when they won just two out of six matches from late July until early September.

"We've had success and, although we dropped off in the league, we can say that the season has been a success," said Vance, who scored both goals in the 2-0 League Cup triumph against Sion Swifts Ladies back in June.

"It's been a good season for us overall with the League Cup and the County Antrim Cup. Winning the league would have made it a great season - and it could still be a great season if we win the Irish Cup.

"We love the Irish Cup. We won it last year and we want to continue our success in the competition.

"We lost out on the league last year as well, but knew that on our day we could win, which gave us something to play for right to the end in the Irish Cup, and we want to finish on a high again and hopefully perform better than we did in the 1-1 draw with Linfield in the league last week."

Sign In

It isn't just the ability that is in the Glentoran squad that has Vance full of belief that they can pull off back-to-back triumphs in the blue riband tournament in the women's game.

Winning the big knockout games has shown the character that Billy Clarke's team possesses, and never more so than when two late goals from Makyla Mulholland saw them complete a comeback victory to beat the Blues in last year's Irish Cup decider.

"This is the biggest prize, and we've shown how much we want to win it and the character we have when we came from 1-0 down last season to win 2-1 with the late goals," said Vance.

"If anything that shows that we will fight to the end, but that comes with the name of Glentoran."

Linfield Ladies manager Phil Lewis also has vivid memories of last season's final - albeit they are very different to Vance's.

He can clearly remember the almost tangible air of deep disappointment in the losers' dressing room after the match and he hopes the players do too as they seek a first triumph since the last in their sequence of three in four years in 2016.

"I don't want to feel like we did last year," he said.

"I remember looking up at the clock. It said there were 83 minutes gone and we were 1-0 up. At the end of the 90 minutes we'd lost 2-1.

"The disappointment in the changing room was huge - and that was after we'd already won the league."

Even if form does go out the window in derbies, let alone cup finals, the head-to-head record between the teams doesn't show either the Blues or Glens as clear favourites.

Linfield were 3-0 winners in the first league clash between the teams back in May, but the Glens were successful in the next meeting - Linfield's only league defeat of the season - before last Saturday night's contest at The Oval finished in what was maybe an inevitable draw, 1-1.

The Blues still need three points and a seven-goal winning margin in next Wednesday's final league game of the season against Derry City Ladies if they are to get their hands on the Premiership title and Lewis isn't prioritising one over the other.

"If you're giving me a choice of one or the other - the league or the Irish Cup - I want both," he joked.

"I haven't won the Irish Cup with Linfield and I want to get my hands on it this time."

Belfast Telegraph

Popular

From Belfast Telegraph