If you can’t handle the pressure, then get out of the kitchen — that’s the warning from Larne midfielder John Herron ahead of Tuesday night’s County Antrim Shield Final against Linfield.
Seaview will be no place for the faint-hearted as the Premiership heavyweights go head-to-head for the first piece of silverware of the season.
Both teams approach the decider in the best possible shape. Tiernan Lynch’s boys defeated Glentoran, Ballymena United and Ballyclare Comrades in the previous rounds, while the Blues dumped out Ards, Dundela and Cliftonville.
Although Larne are the Shield holders, Herron believes they will thrive on the pressure of trying to retain the trophy.
“At the level we want to play at, and the level we want to compete at, if you can’t handle the pressure, you shouldn’t be here,” says the former Glentoran man.
“We want to be challenging for League titles, for Irish Cups and for County Antrim Shields. If anyone can’t handle that, then they should be playing for someone else.
“You’ve got to be able to handle the pressure, it’s something we talk about every single day. We are under pressure every time we cross the white line. If anyone can’t handle that, they are at the wrong club.
“The way we look at it is there is nothing easy in this League, so every game is a pressure pot. It has already been proved that the teams at the bottom of the League table can take points off the teams above them.
“It’s just the nature of this League, there are no easy games. We test ourselves from Monday to Friday, then every Saturday we know fine well, regardless of the opposition, we’ve got to win the battles before the quality of the squad comes through.”
Herron dismisses the theory that his team are at an advantage with the game taking place on Seaview’s artificial pitch, similar to their own ground at Inver Park.
“I think everyone is now used to playing on synthetic surfaces,” he adds. “I don’t think it’s an advantage or a bonus to us. We train on it every day and so do Linfield.
“We know what we are up against. David Healy has done a fantastic job at Linfield and we know what to expect, but it’s a game we’ll look forward to.
“The one thing about Seaview, it should be packed to the rafters. I love the little stadium, we’ll be bringing a big crowd of fans with us and I’m sure Linfield will sell out their allocation.
“It will be two in-form teams going head-to-head. We are looking at it as just another game and I’m sure Linfield are doing the same.
“Linfield have been on a good run, as have we. They are a well-managed side and I’m sure it will be a great game for the fans.”
Larne are coming off a milestone win at Glentoran last weekend — the first time they had beaten the East Belfast outfit at The Oval since 1978 — and Herron believes it will require a similar type of performance to down the Blues.
“We were happy with our display against Glentoran, The Oval is a notoriously difficult place to go to,” he says.
“Everyone knows we like to get the ball down and pass it, we like to play attractive football, but sometimes you must show another side, an ugly side, and I don’t think we did that enough at times in the past.
“I think we showed that side against Glentoran. We don’t mind rolling up our sleeves and producing a bit of the rough stuff.
“We showed great hunger and desire. We lost the lead on two occasions and when that happens, teams may settle for a draw — especially away to Glentoran — but not us.
“That’s not the way we operate, we knew it was still there for the taking.
“Regardless of the opposition, we go out to take three points in every game, whether it be Linfield, Glentoran or Portadown. Instead of feeling sorry for ourselves, we showed a lot of character to win it. I think it showed the togetherness we have in the squad.”