Football/Soccer

Crues controversy hasn't affected my players ahead of final insists Larne boss Tiernan Lynch

Larne boss Tiernan Lynch insists his players's focus is fully on tonight's Irish Cup final, despite the controversy rumbling on in the background. Picture by Pacemaker
Steven Beacom

Peaky Blinders Irish Cup final: Linfield v Larne (tonight, Windsor Park, 7.45pm)

LARNE manager Tiernan Lynch has insisted that his players have not let the controversy surrounding Tuesday's Irish Cup semi-final penalty shoot-out triumph over Crusaders impact on their preparation for tonight's decider against Linfield.

The build up to the final has been dominated by the dramatic events at Mourneview Park after Larne and the Crues played out a 1-1 draw. In the shoot-out Crusaders goalkeeper Jonny Tuffey saved three penalties but officials ruled that he had moved off his line before every one. Tuffey was sent off by referee Shane Andrews for persistently offending and Larne went on to win 6-5 on spot-kicks.

While Crusaders were fuming, Head of Refereeing at the IFA Trevor Moutray backed the decision making of the officials.

Yesterday Lynch held his Cup final media briefing at 3pm. Later in the afternoon the Crues announced that following legal advice they had lodged an official protest with the IFA Challenge Cup Committee in relation to the match with Larne.

"In order to minimise disruption to the competition and given the extremely tight timelines, the details of the protest have been shared with the IFA verbally and a copy of the documentation has been forwarded also by email," said a statement from the Seaview club.

"The protest details multiple separate breaches of Laws 10 and 14 of the IFAB Laws of the game. For the avoidance of doubt NO legal action has been taken."

During the game Crues striker Adam Lecky was sent off meaning that for the penalties one Larne player was excluded from taking a spot-kick. Crusaders feel that Law 10 was breached claiming another Larne player was not excluded after Tuffey was sent off.

The Law points out that if "during the kicks one team has a greater number of players than its opponents, it must reduce its numbers to the same number'.

While the IFA Challenge Cup Committee will consider the protest, last night Larne, Linfield and IFA were continuing their preparations for the final scheduled for Mourneview at 7.45pm.

Asked if off the field events had taken away Larne's focus, Lynch said: "My concentration and the concentration of everyone at Larne Football Club is on the final on Friday night. Our job right now is to concentrate totally on football and that’s the only thing we are talking about and thinking about.

“If other people want to talk, that’s completely up to themselves. Our job is football, totally and utterly."

Lynch is keen to win Larne's first Irish Cup for everyone at Inver Park and in particular owner Kenny Bruce who has poured millions into the club transforming them from an average Championship side to a top flight force.

"Kenny is Larne, especially in our eyes. I’m fortunate enough to be very close to Kenny," said Lynch, who sees Linfield as firm favourites.

“What probably frustrates me most is that people have this perception of him that it’s all about this multi-millionaire backer who just puts money in.

“He was actually in the car park on FaceTime on Tuesday with his son who was relaying the penalties to him because his nerves got the better of him. That sums him up, it just means so much to him."

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Football/Soccer