Linfield and Dungannon Swifts’ Irish Cup experiences can serve as extra motivation for league

Linfield boss David Healy. Pic by INPHO.
Linfield boss David Healy. Pic by INPHO.

When Linfield and Dungannon Swifts line out in pursuit of league points today expect each club’s Irish Cup outcome to offer extra inspiration.

Although January’s fifth-round knockout weekend offered contrasting fortunes, both can expect to draw on the memories for motivation across the second half of the Danske Bank Premiership campaign.

Dungannon Swifts boss Kris Lindsay. Pic by PressEye Ltd.

Dungannon Swifts boss Kris Lindsay. Pic by PressEye Ltd.

It will provide a first fixture back in front of the Windsor Park fans for Linfield since the current league leaders suffered that shock loss to Queen’s. The Swifts edged past Institute for a cup boost to bolster hopes of beating the drop.

Linfield sit level on points with Glentoran and Cliftonville having the benefit of one game fewer played entering the second half of the most dramatic title race in recent memory.

“They were hurting,” said Healy on the official Linfield website - following victory over Cliftonville - in reference to the Irish Cup aftermath. “People asking the question what happened in the dressing room last week and what did we say - to be honest, I can’t remember, there was a lot of chit-chat.

“Chit-chat’s not important, it’s about reactions and people training well and working hard during the week and, more importantly, when the games come, they can go in and put a shift in for the club.

“Last week I said it was the lowest time certainly of my managerial career but sometimes you learn and you really respect the people who support you.

“That win, I hope, is the first step of winning a wee bit of the trust back.

“After the game I said to the players it won’t mean anything if we don’t back it up with three points against Dungannon Swifts.

“The players are well aware of that, we will prepare in the same manner we prepared for this game... we will prepare for a tough game.

“Hopefully, it (beating Cliftonville) is the first step of winning a wee bit of the trust back.

“We can kick on and see where that takes us.”

Lindsay, a former Linfield centre-back, is pragmatic enough to accept the gulf that exists between the club he represented as a player and the club of which he is manager - with 32 points dividing the sides in the standings before this weekend.

However, he is hoping his players can learn lessons from the mentality on show by Linfield to bounce back from the blow of a cup exit under those circumstances and claim victory over a main title rival.

“That mental strength is part of what makes players at the very top the top players of course - but if our guys can look at Linfield and try to take something from that example it is a small margin which could make a difference to our goals,” said Lindsay. “Linfield are going for the league, we are looking to stay in the league, so the targets may be different but we need to try and learn some of that mindset.

“I realise a lot of it comes down to experience and environment, a shared belief around the dressing room that gives you confidence and faith for the big occasion.

“I was at the game with Cliftonville on Monday and the conditions were horrible but the performance showed everything Linfield are about for me.

“They, once again, managed a set-piece winner and the resilience and fortitude can only be admired.

“How they can compartmentalise mistakes and not let it affect you is the mark of a top team and something Linfield squads have done over the years.

“We were disappointed the game was postponed last week against Ballymena United as it would have been great to get back playing so quickly after that Irish Cup win.

“But it still offers us a big boost moving forward and something we can take into the second half of our season.

“It was not just about the result but also the performance.”