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Our Tommy is in mood to make magic

By Stuart McKinley

We've done it: Manager Tommy Wright and Brian Easton celebrate St Johnstone's Scottish Cup semi-final win over AberdeenTOMMY Wright hopes he has got the magic touch that will deliver a first piece of major silverware for St Johnstone.

The former Northern Ireland goalkeeper has already made history by leading the Perth outfit to the Scottish Cup final for the first time, but if you think he's satisfied with that, then you obviously don't know Tommy Wright.

Making up the numbers and being happy to play the role of underdog isn't in his make up.

During his playing career he helped Northern Ireland defy the odds on a few occasions – most notably in a famous 1-1 draw against Germany in 1996 – and while managing in the Irish League he also led Lisburn Distillery to a first trophy in 17 years, when they beat Portadown in the League Cup final in 2011.

Now, in his first season in charge after taking over from his ex-international team-mate Steve Lomas, Wright is preparing to lead St Johnstone into the Scottish Cup final against Dundee United at Celtic Park this afternoon and he is feeling the cup romance of his childhood returning.

"I think the magic of the Scottish Cup is summed up in the fact that we are in the final," said Wright.

"The Scottish Cup has retained that magic, particularly this season. If you look at the FA Cup, I mean last season it was on at 5.30pm on a Saturday night and they had league games on.

"I know times have changed, but I remember as a kid and the build-up for FA Cup final day started at 9am and they were away at team hotels and stuff, but it has been overtaken by the importance of the league and Champions League; the game has evolved and changed.

"I still think Cup competitions should be able to provide that bit of magic and have a fairytale end. Hopefully this year that will be the case."

Although only five points separated United in fourth and sixth placed Saints in the Scottish Premiership, Wright believes the greater weight of expectation is on his opponents.

That seems to be the opinion of most of Scotland as well, with Dundee United's history favouring them – even though they have won only one trophy in the last 20 years.

Victory, however, is all that is in Wright's mind.

"There is no pressure, the only difficulty I have is that there is a hell of a lot more to do outwith concentrating on the football, with the excitement and what is going on at the club," said Wright.

"That's a difficulty but it's a nice problem to have. We had one of the best training sessions we have had this season on Thursday.

"I am not feeling under pressure about it. Everybody seems to be happy that we are in the final, which is good but, as I said to the players, there is no point in us getting to the final and not winning it, and that is what we are hopefully going to do."

While Wright is in the dugout, former Linfield goalkeeper Alan Mannus will be between the posts and together they will carry the best wishes of many involved in Northern Ireland football.

"It has been a bit like New Year's Eve, people have been getting in early. The messages have been coming steadily. I've had a lot from people I know in the game, people I played with and folk back home," said Wright.

Belfast Telegraph


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