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Thompson gets groomed for a fourth Cup win

The romance will have to wait for Peter Thompson.

The Linfield striker walks up the aisle to marry his fiancee Donna four weeks today, but it’s the Windsor roar, rather than wedding bells, ringing in his ear.

Love is in the air, but it’s the romance of the Cup dominating his thoughts — at least until Donna reminds him of another big match on the horizon.

And as far as the Northern Ireland international is concerned, he doesn’t want Linfield to be the bridesmaid this afternoon.

History is not on Portadown’s side as it is usually the mid-Ulster men who fail to catch the bouquet when the sides clash in the showpiece final.

The teams have met twice before in the showdown — in 1962 when 20,000 fans saw a 4-0 defeat for the Ports in their first-ever final and in 2002 when Linfield triumphed 2-1.

Portadown also have the misfortune to run into ‘Pistol Pete’ who saves most of his finest gunslinger moments for the big stage — scoring twice in the finals against Coleraine and Glentoran.

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Thompson’s love affair with the Irish Cup is well documented and now perhaps the team’s cup final suits may make a reappearance at the wedding!

“The boys have been joking with me about that,” said Thompson. “The only problem is that everyone will be looking the same at the wedding!”

The only vows Thompson will be making today is a vow to win the Irish Cup for a fourth time and there won’t be too many objectors in the Linfield dressing room.

The striker has already scored in every round of the competition apart from the 3-1 win at Glentoran in the quarter-finals.

“You can never take anything for granted in the game, even at a big club like Linfield,” said Thompson.

“A serious injury could be just around the corner and then where does that leave your career?

“You have to enjoy the moment and win as much as you can. I know a lot of the boys haven’t played in an Irish Cup final before but it was like that when we beat, the Glens in 2006 to do the clean sweep.

“If you want to be successful you have to be ready to perform when it matters in the big games. You also need a little luck, but while there is a lot of hype about cup finals it is really about the 90 minutes and nothing else.

“I’ve been fortunate to have scored a few goals in Irish Cup finals and that always gives you confidence, but the team should always take the credit.

“I believe that Linfield would have won the league this season even if I hadn’t come to the club in January. Their confidence would have returned, but hopefully I did play a helpful role and I can contribute in the Irish Cup final in some positive way.”

Linfield should be brimming with confidence after their title triumph and Thompson admits Gibson Cup glory should give them an extra spring in their step.

“It would have been more difficult going into the Irish Cup final if we had lost the league,” he said.

“If there had been a late collapse our confidence would have been low and we would have had to pick ourselves up.

“But the cup is very different to the league — it’s four or five matches and down to who turns up on the day. Portadown will be very difficult to beat and I’m sure they will make it tough for us.”


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