Captain Fantastic

@Press Eye Ltd Northern Ireland- 3rd   May   2014'Mandatory Credit -Brian Little/Presseye''Glenavon captain Kris Lindsay lifts the Irish Cup  after victory over Ballymena United   during Saturday's Marie Curie Irish Cup Final at Windsor Park.'Picture by Brian Little/Presseye
@Press Eye Ltd Northern Ireland- 3rd May 2014'Mandatory Credit -Brian Little/Presseye''Glenavon captain Kris Lindsay lifts the Irish Cup after victory over Ballymena United during Saturday's Marie Curie Irish Cup Final at Windsor Park.'Picture by Brian Little/Presseye

Dromore man Kris Lindsay says it was an “honour” to become the first Glenavon captain to lift the Irish Cup since Lee Doherty back in 1997.

The Lurgan Blues edged out Ballymena in a close-fought final at Windsor Park on Saturday, leaving Kris to do the honours in front of the 3,500 strong Glenavon support.

“To lift the trophy for Glenavon was a real honour and a privilege for me,” he told the ‘LEADER.’

“I nearly dropped the Cup because the lads were spraying champagne everywhere and it was going up my nose. My nose had been cut open and the champagen was going into the cut and it was stinging and all I could think was ‘don’t drop it.’

“We could see how much it meant to the boys and to the fans and to Gary (Hamilton - manager). He has never hid the fact that he’s a Glenavon fan and always has been.

“It meant so much to him and to people like Adrian Teer (club Chairman) and the directors.

“For me to lift the Irish Cup for people like them was an absolute privilege. All my family were there too so it was great to be able to lift the Cup in front of everyone.”

Lindsay, a youth development coach with the IFA, was even able to ensure some local youngsters were at the game to watch him lifting the trophy.

“I work as a youth coach for IFA and I was able to get a few tickets for Dromara Primary School,” he said. “I went to see them after the game and they were all absolutely buzzing.

“There were loads of kids there so hopefully seeing their team in a final will get them hooked and they’ll be back at Irish League football. We need to get more young supporters in.”

Lindsay was certainly made to work for his winners’ medal and has all the scars to prove it.

From clashing heads with team-mate gareth McKeown early on, it was a day of bumps and bruises for the skipper, who came through it all to put in a real leader’s performance, an almost impenetrable rock in the heart of the Glenavon back line:

“I could feel my face swelling up straight away when I hit Gareth then soon after I got an elbow to the face. There was no intent there but I could feel the blood running down my face and I knew we needed to get it stopped. We were down to ten men and we couldn’t afford me being off the pitch so I was shouting at Lynne (Carpenter - physio) to get it stopped and thankfully we did.

“I probably put my head in where I shouldn’t have but, as a defender, that’s what you’re paid to do.”

Saturday’s dramatic 2-1 victory over Ballymena, thanks to Mark Patton’s late winner, was Kris’ second Irish Cup victory, having previously won the trophy with Linfield.

However, he says this one was an even better experience, having come through some tough years in the sport.

“It’s a pretty special one,” he said.

“People say winning trophies with Linfield isn’t special. Every trophy you win is special but after all the injuries that I’ve had, I didn’t think I’d be able to lift another trophy. To do it for Glenavon was extra special.”

It wasn’t an experience many at the club were overly familiar with. Glenavon had been used to Cup finals in the 1990s but hadn’t made it to a senior showpiece occasion since 1998.

After such a long wait, they certainly made up for lost time.

Lindsay said: “It was a fantastic day. We met at the ground at 10am and the place was packed. There were so many fans and a real party atmosphere about the place. We got such a great send-off and then we went up to Belfast for the pre-match meal. There were a few nerves about but everyone was together.

“Then to walk out onto the pitch even just for the warm-up with the noise and colour from both sets of supporters was fantastic. The fans were all brilliant and there was an amazing atmosphere in the ground.

“The day flies by. We told the young lads to enjoy it because it flies by so quickly. You have to be a part of it to see how special it really is but it goes by in a heart-beat.

“The match itself is a bit of a blur but I don’t think it was that great a game. Finals are like that quite often but the important thing is to win them and we did it.

“The celebrations were really incredible. All the lads had their kids on the pitch and the fans were singing, it was great.

“When we went back to Mourneview, the place was packed again and it really stayed like that all night.

“The boys enjoyed it. It’s been a long, hard season and we’ve worked hard so I think we deserved it.”