Football/Soccer

Reaching finals must become the norm at Larne: boss Tiernan Lynch

Larne boss Tiernan Lynch

Toals Bookmakers Co Antrim Shield final: Larne v Linfield (tonight, Seaview, 7.45pm)

LARNE boss Tiernan Lynch is hoping the bitter memory of losing last season’s Irish Cup final to Linfield will inspire them to go on and win tonight’s Co Antrim Shield against the Blues.

The Inver Park men didn’t come close to reaching their potential in last May’s showpiece decider and duly lost 2-1. But Lynch wants the club and his players to start getting used to making the latter stages of competitions and embracing the occasions when they get there.

“For me, it’s another game,” said Lynch.

“Our long-term objective is we want to try and make this the norm, getting to the latter stages of competitions on an annual basis, getting to finals and hopefully winning them and getting used to that. The more you do that, the more you’ll enjoy the games and that’s the way we have to approach this final – to enjoy it.

“That’s the mentality we’re trying to instil in the boys. We were stung a little bit after the way we performed in the Irish Cup final and this is one we can go and put right.”

Lynch was full of praise for the Blues whom they drew and lost to in the league this season with both games at Inver Park.

“Linfield are a team that don’t concede very many goals, they’re very solid,” said Lynch.

“I think they’ve only conceded nine or 10 league goals this year and they’re also a team that have pace in the front line. [Christy] Mazinga is quick, strong and physical and has 12 or 13 goals this year and they have legs in the middle of the park.

“Chris Shields has come in there and does a super job for them. He’s really steadied them. He gets on the ball and likes to play through the thirds and likes to drop into the back-line and get it. He’s really influenced Linfield as a team and how they play. And then you have the individual sparks of brilliance – Jordan Stewart, Kirk Millar and people like that, so they’ve a little bit of everything to be fair to them.

“They also have that expectancy of going on and winning leagues and cups – and our job is obviously to break that.

Meanwhile, the Larne boss insisted the alleged £100k they shelled out for Portadown’s Lee Bonis is way off the mark, and feels the bustling striker can be a big hit at the club.

With social media going into overdrive over how much Larne actually paid for Bonis, who was attracting interest from Glentoran and Linfield, Lynch said: “I actually don’t do social media and I don’t read newspapers to be honest because you’d find yourself getting frustrated.

“First of all, people have put a figure on it. It’s like Chinese whispers – it starts at five grand and ends up at 150 grand and by the time it gets around the room, his wages are £2,000 a week.

“But we see Lee as a very sound investment.

“We know he has a lot of work to do and he’s the first one to admit it. Is Lee a Joe Gormley right now? No, he’s not. Is an Andy Waterworth right now? No, he’s not.

“Last season he scored 11 or 12 goals for a Portadown team that was struggling a bit. We don’t want to take any of the rawness out of him… He reminds me of a very young Andy Waterworth.

“I think Lee over the next six or 12 months and being in a full-time environment every day, technically and tactically being worked with and all the strength and conditioning, he’s a kid that will only get better and better.”

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Football/Soccer