‘This is as good as it gets.’
Dromore man Kris Lindsay says the Irish Cup final is without doubt the top day in the local football calendar.
He knows all about it. He has won the trophy with both Linfield and Glenavon. He even captained the Glenavon team who lifted the trophy just two years ago.
“Anybody who has played in the Irish Cup final will tell you, it’s the best day to be involved in,” he smiled, the butterflies already kicking in. “Winning leagues is brilliant but that’s over a season. The Irish Cup final is a special, special day.
“Lifting the Irish Cup in front of a packed National Stadium is an believable feeling. Two years ago, it was magnificent to end that long run that Glenavon had to wait for it. It would be brilliant if we could manage to do it again this weekend.
“We got our Cup final suits last week and that all adds to the occasion. We’ll arrive at Mourneview Park early on Saturday. Last time, it was packed with about 400 people at 10 in the morning. I expect something similar this year and it makes the day so special.”
Despite being Captain Fantastic just two years ago, Kris’ place in the starting 11 isn’t even a sure thing this time around. That speaks volumes about the strength in depth of Glenavon’s squad. In Lindsay, Dillon, Kelly and Elebert, all four are the best centre-halves Glenavon have had in the guts of 20 years.
“There’s great competition there,” he said. “We have four quality centre-halves. Unfortunately Dave (Elebert) is injured so he’s unlikely to be available for selection. Whoever Gary (Hamilton - manager) picks, you know they’re quality players and that they’ll do a job. Fingers crossed I can get one of those spots.
“We’ll just find out the team in the changing rooms about 90 minutes before kick off, as is the normal Saturday routine.
“Gary is keeping that close to his chest.
“We have 18 or 19 fit players so there will even be a few disappointed boys who won’t even make the bench. That’s what the manager gets paid for and he has to make those decisions.
“Fingers crossed I’ll make it into the 16 anyway.”
The boss perhaps even has a fifth centre-half at his disposal now, as makeshift as he may be. That’s Hamilton himself!
He gave a guest performance in defence last weekend, and even picked up the Man of the Match award.
“I’m starting to worry,” laughed Lindsay. “He did well. And then he was saying ‘I don’t know what you defenders are complaining about, I’m alright after that. You don’t even have to run.’”
For Lindsay, a hat-trick of Irish Cup wins is on the line. Would this one be the best of all, given it’s against the team that let him go?
“I don’t know about that,” he smiled. “Lifting it against anyone is special. It doesn’t matter who you’re up against, you just want to get your hands on that Cup.
“It’s a good mood, the boys are positive. All eyes are on the final now and everybody’s buzzing for it. A lot of the guys experienced it two years ago and then the new lads that have come in since are really, really looking forward to it.”