'You can't beat it': Linfield Swifts hero Jake Corbett targets first team after Steel and Sons Cup glory
Linfield Swifts goalscoring hero Jake Corbett saw his Christmas wish granted as the gifted young Blues team swept aside Newington 3-1 in the final of the Toals Steel and Sons Cup at Seaview.
It was a slice of revenge for the Swifts who lost 1-0 to the same opponents in the 2017 decider but this time the young guns, including the exceptional 15-year-old Dale Taylor, sparkled in the winter sunshine.
As proud families and Linfield boss David Healy looked on, the teenagers showed they have massive futures in the game.
Two headers from 18-year-old midfielder Corbett and a late strike from Charlie Allen ensured the boys in red and white savoured the magic of Christmas.
Premier Intermediate League side Newington set up a tense finish when substitute Raymond McVarnock netted in the 80th minute to make it 2-1 but the young Swifts showed their class.
"It's an amazing feeling, winning the Steel and Sons on Christmas morning and scoring two goals, it couldn't have been a better day for me," said a thrilled Corbett. "Two similar headers, the first one the sun caught the keeper out and the second one, I made a good run and put my head on it.
"This is a great team, as the manager says we have the best players and there's a winning mentality which exists throughout the club.
"Winning on Christmas Day proves it. We are younger than them by a country mile but we proved we are good enough.
"It's a young squad and there were nerves but we came to the party this time and came out with the win. It's a team performance from start to finish and we delivered. This could be a leap into the new year for me to push on and get into the first team.
"My mum, dad, brother and sister came down to watch me and I'll remember this extra special moment. Few goals and man of the match, you can't beat it."
Swifts chief David Dorrian was a proud man at the finish and it was also an emotional success for him after the 2017 final defeat which came after the tragic loss of his wife Debbie who passed away with cancer in June.
"My personal life was in a different place as I lost my wife two years ago before the cup final," said David. "My whole life was upside down and it was a horrible year. I was married to Debbie for 32 years and it left me devastated but today this is a better Christmas for me.
"I'm proud of everyone and I feel sorry for young Justin Devlin who broke his leg in training and couldn't play but I want to thank everyone at Linfield and the Academy for their support.
"We are a good football team and we are even better than that. I thought we played in patches and I put that down to nerves.
"Whenever you're winning a game the opposition has to chase it and that opens up space which players like Dale Taylor and Charlie Allen to exploit.
"Dale is only 15 and he is unreal, he has a massive future ahead of him. He can go right to the top. Loads of English clubs want the two lads and Dale in particular really shone for us.
"He's played in the first team and scored, he's just a magnificent player."
While recognising that youngsters like Corbett, Taylor and Allen can go far in the game, Dorrian also acknowledged the crucial contribution of keeper Alex Moore.
"I know Jake scored two goals but Alex was close to being man of the match as well," he added.
"Every ball that went into the box he collected. When the goalkeeper gets on the ball like that it takes pressure off the defence and Alex was fantastic.
"It was two great balls in for Jake, who is a goalscoring midfielder. He's another one with a great future. He won player of the tournament at the Milk Cup for Co Down so there's quality there. The young players are destined to play in England.
"Charlie has the pick of clubs to go to and our Academy works hard with the young players."
Newington manager Conor Crossan was naturally disappointed to lose the final but he was keeping the game in perspective.
"I felt the better side lost but that's football," he reflected.
"The third goal flattered them but they went home with the trophy. I thought their goalkeeper was excellent and played a big role in their victory, he was a man of the match contender.
"I thought we were strong and dominant but in the final third we made the wrong decision and got a bit sloppy. No-one wants to lose a Steel and Sons Cup final, it means a lot to us but football gives you ups and downs.
"It will be kept in perspective. I had to send friends text messages as they are spending their first Christmas without their parents. Although I'm disappointed to lose a final on a day like today you remember the important things in life and football comes a distant second."
Linfield Swifts: Moore, McGivern, McVeigh, O'Hare, Larkin, Hume, Green, Corbett, Reynolds (Carroll 65), Taylor, Allen. Subs: Gemmell, Storey, Archer, Dinu. Newington: Maybin, O'Reilly, Pierce, Casey, Bradley, R Gowdy, Gallagher, Taggart (Cummings 69), Devine (J Gowdy 60), White (McVarnock 75), McConnell. Subs (not used): Dempsey, Hughes. Referee: Richard Stewart.
Man of match: Jake Corbett
Match rating: 7/10.
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