Paul Munster has warned the rest of the Carling Premiership “Linfield are back”.
The 2008-2009 season brought nothing but heartbreak for the Blues and their fans as Glentoran won the league title and the Windsor Park trophy cabinet was bare.
Forget the three consecutive league and cup doubles before that — it was unacceptable for Linfield to go through an entire campaign with nothing to show for it.
The pressure was on manager David Jeffrey and his men this season and there were times they appeared close to crumbling under the weight of expectation.
But while Glentoran’s season imploded, Peter Thompson arrived in January, Linfield regrouped and the red, white and blue ribbons are back on the Gibson Cup.
Now fresh red, white and blue ribbons may have to be attached to the JJB Sports Irish Cup if the Blues can defeat Portadown this afternoon.
After a year of woe, Jeffrey and his men could be back in the business of winning doubles.
It would represent a worrying development for the rest of the league who were enjoying Linfield’s struggles.
Does their 49th league championship send out a statement of intent to their rivals? “You bet it does,” says Munster.
The fear for Glentoran — who
seem set to embark on a summer clearout — is that Linfield have rediscovered the art of winning silverware.
A season of transition is behind them — now the future is red, white and blue.
“This is definitely a statement of intent,” said Munster who will be playing in his very first Irish Cup decider.
“You want to show everyone that you are back in business. There is no point in winning the league and saying we have done enough.
“Every footballer is like that. I want to win and now we are in a cup final against Portadown where we are both fighting for the prize.
“You want to win trophies and medals. It’s going to be a massive game in front of a big crowd.
“Everyone has been telling me about the final so it is going to be an interesting experience for me.
“Ask any player and he will tell you the desire to win a cup final is very strong.
“We lost the County Antrim Shield final against Crusaders and I almost forgot about that because you don’t tend to remember them — I only care about the finals that we win.
“I came here to Linfield to win things and I’m delighted to get my first league winner’s medal.
“Now that that has been achieved the main aim for everyone is the double.”
Munster’s strike partner Peter Thompson relishes Irish Cup finals and the former Slavia Prague man is not too concerned about staying in Thommo’s shadow.
“I was a ghost for a few months but then I came back all of a sudden,” added Munster.
“As a striker you always want to score goals — like Peter has done in Irish Cup finals — but it doesn’t really matter to me, as long as the team wins. It’s irrelevant who scores, as long as we win.
“This is the last game of the season and everyone is buzzing knowing we can go out on a real high.
“We won the league and we were all very excited by that but we are focused on another big target. It’s a nice feeling to have a cup to go for.
“Windsor Park is our home ground and we should feel comfortable there.
“Hopefully there is a big crowd and our fans are cheering us on all the way through the game. They can be our twelfth man.
“Portadown have had a very good season and you cannot take anything for granted in a cup competition but we have just won the league and it would be a shame to finish the season on a low note.”