Kris out to end 17 years of hurt

�Press Eye Ltd Northern Ireland - 23rd April 2014'Mandatory Credit -  Darren Kidd /''The Marie Curie Irish Cup Final press conference.''Ballymena's Alan Teggart and Jim Ervin with Glenavon's Kris Lindsay and Gareth McKeown at Windsor Park
�Press Eye Ltd Northern Ireland - 23rd April 2014'Mandatory Credit - Darren Kidd /''The Marie Curie Irish Cup Final press conference.''Ballymena's Alan Teggart and Jim Ervin with Glenavon's Kris Lindsay and Gareth McKeown at Windsor Park

Dromore man Kris Lindsay is dreaming of lifting the Irish Cup on Saturday.

The 30 year-old could be the first Glenavon captain to get his hands on the trophy since 1997 when his side take on Ballymena United at Windsor Park (kick-off 2.30pm).

That is, if he’s selected. Kris says he’s “100% fit” and ready to go but is at the mercy of player/manager Gary Hamilton.

For the Glenavon fans, it’s been an agonising 17 year wait for another day in the sun and this Saturday’s showpiece final has certainly caught their imagination.

And the thought that Kris could be the man to end their misery, plant a kiss on the trophy and lift it above his head is an exciting thought.

He said: “It would be a great honour for me. It would be something really special. It’s been a long time since Glenavon won the Cup and they deserve to be doing that a lot more regularly.

“I’m not going to claim to be a Glenavon fan when I was young but my granda supported them and I lived across the road from the late, great Bill Ireland, who was a fanatical Glenavon fan.

“There are a lot of supporters from Dromore and they’re even bringing a bus down.

“The tickets are near enough sold out already and there’s such a buzz about the club and about Dromore and the whole area. We can really feel the fans building up for Saturday.

“The boys can’t wait to get out there on Saturday. We’ve all got measured up for our suits, which we’ll be getting during the week and we’ve been training well. We’ll all be well up for it.

“We’ll be down at Mourneview Park early and will travel down to Belfast for lunch before going to Windsor.”

Lindsay has already experienced an Irish cup victory as he was part of the Linfield side that beat Coleraine 2-1 in the 2008 final.

An Irish Cup final, he says, is an experience quite unlike any other in the local game.

“Irish Cup final day is the best day of the year,” he said.

“That’s the day that everyone looks forward to all year. From what I remember, it’s always a good day, with the sun splitting the trees.

“You can really feel it all building as you reach the ground. It’s a special atmosphere, it’s not like a normal game at Windsor. You can feel the anticipation off everyone, even the ground staff.

“It’s a special, special day, but only if you win. If you win, it’s the best day of the year but if you lose, it’s the worst. We’ll be going in with a positive frame of mind and going for the win.

“Our fans are magnificent and they’ll be out in force. At the semi-final, there was lots of colour and noise and it’ll be the same at the final. They’ll be in early to get the atmosphere going.”

The former Dromore Juniors man knows Glenavon’s final could be oh so sweet but could just as easily turn sour.

“It’ll be a tight, tight game and it’ll come down to whoever performs on the day,” he said.

“Gary (Hamilton) has got together an experienced squad. Big G (Gareth McKeown), Winkie Murphy, David Rainey, Ciaran Martyn and Kyle Neill have all been at these big occasions and have the experience of them but we also have younger guys who haven’t been there. It’ll all be about how we, the experienced lads, bring them through.

“To be fair to Ballymena, the have experience as well. Guys like Allan Jenkins, David Cushley and Jim Ervin have all been there. They also have the experience of being to the County Antrim Shield final and winning it. They have that big game experience.”

Glenavon beat Ballymena 6-3 on the opening day of the season and finished above the Braidmen in the league table, squeezing into the top six naorrwly ahead of Glenn Ferguson’s side but Lindsay knows that will mean nothing on Saturday.

“The other two games between us have been tight,” he said. “There was a 0-0 at Mourneview and they beat us the last time we went to the Showgrounds. There was only one or two points between us going into the split.

“They have a big threat with the likes of Jenkins, Cushley and Boyce who are strong players going forward but we have Guy Bates, Mark Patton and David Rainey who will cause problems too.”

Neither side have picked up a win since their semi-final victories a month ago. Both teams have used their first team players sparingly, Kris himself being withdrawn during Saturday’s defeat to Linfield.

“I came off against Linfield on Saturday but that was just as a precaution. I could have played on but I wasn’t going to damage myself. I’m 100% fit and ready to go,” he said.

At the time of going to print, a very small number of match tickets remain. Contact Glenavon FC on 02838 322472.

The club shop will be open from 7-9pm on Tuesday to Thursday evenings and Friday from 2pm to sell Cup final flags and other club merchandise.