Football/Soccer

Kirsty McGuinness has eyes set on soccer and Gaelic football honours

Linfield Ladies Kirsty McGuinness and Glentoran's Jessica Foy get ready for tonight's Electric Ireland Women's Challenge Cup final

Electric Ireland Women's Challenge Cup final: Glentoran Women's v Linfield Ladies (Tonight, Windsor Park, 7.30pm)

LINFIELD Ladies and St Paul's ace Kirsty McGuinness is aiming to pocket silverware in both soccer and Gaelic football before the end of the season, starting with trying to avenge last season's cup final heartache to arch rivals Glentoran.

The Blues squandered a one-goal advantage in last season's Challenge Cup final after Makyla Mulholland scored two late goals to give the Glens an unlikely victory.

The Belfast sides clash again in tonight's Electric Ireland Women's Challenge Cup final at Windsor Park – and McGuinness hopes she'll be the owner of a fourth winner's medal in the competition.

“Obviously we went 1-0 up and it was quite late on too and then conceding two goals – two identical goals – from set pieces by the same player was disappointing,” said McGuinness, who won July's Player of the Month award.

“We have to make sure that doesn't happen in this final and we've been working on that and hopefully we'll be up to the task on Saturday night.”

McGuinness (24) has been in razor-sharp goalscoring form for Linfield this season, bagging 27 goals, as the Blues sit three points behind table-toppers Sion Swifts Ladies.

“After the league, this is probably the one everybody wants to win, so we're just glad to reach the final again and hopefully we can go one step further than last year,” McGuinness added.

Linfield's left winger has been equally prolific for St Paul's as they clinched their eight consecutive Antrim title at the end of August, scoring a remarkable 5-4 in the final win over St Gall's.

The west Belfast girls face Cavan champions Gowna in next weekend's Ulster IFC semi-finals.

McGuinness was also part of the Antrim side that defeated Louth in the All-Ireland Junior final back in 2012.

“Winning with Antrim was up there with anything I've done, not just winning but the whole experience of playing at Croke Park in an All-Ireland final, you can only dream of that.”

In soccer, she has won three Challenge Cups (2013, 2014 and 2016) before falling at the final hurdle last season.

She has also won three Danske Bank Premiership titles with Linfield and represented Northern Ireland in recent times.

A big fan of Celtic, McGuinness confesses her first love is soccer.

“I don't think my Gaelic manager will want to hear this but I prefer playing soccer,” she said.

“It's probably because I've been playing it longer and I suppose anything in the summer I'll sign up for!”

With another huge crowd expected at tonight's Electric Ireland Challenge Cup showpiece decider, McGuinness believes the profile of the women's game is improving all the time.

“No matter what social media you are on, you always see something about Ladies football. Last year there was a massive crowd at the cup final and hopefully it'll be bigger again and the game will grow and grow.”

Despite trailing the Blues by nine points in the Premiership, Glentoran skipper Jessica Foy feels they are getting “stronger and stronger” as the season progresses having some silverware in the bank already this season.

“I think that it's very exciting that we'll be able to play at the National Stadium, “ said Foy.

“Obviously, we were there last year against Linfield and it was a fantastic atmosphere. It's a really big occasion for all the girls.

“It's definitely one of the finals you want to be in, especially against Linfield. We know it's going to be a tough game, but we've already won two cups this season and we feel like we've been getting stronger throughout the season. We're really focused for the occasion.”

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