Linfield’s Kirk Millar salutes return of supporters for Irish Cup final success

Kirk Millar - who headed straight to the Mourneview Park stands moments after Linfield broke the deadlock against Larne - has highlighted the supporters’ positive influence behind the club’s 44th Irish Cup honour.

Monday, 24th May 2021, 6:00 am

Shayne Lavery kicked off the scoring to spark celebrations on and off the pitch in Lurgan as 1,000 fans were granted access following a reduction in coronavirus restrictions for the ‘learning event’.

Joel Cooper doubled the advantage before the break and Jeff Hughes scored a late goal for Larne to make it 2-1 at the close of play in the showpiece.

“Yeah, it was good to have them back and good to have a bit of noise and atmosphere about the place again,” said Millar. “You’re always going to be up for a cup final, but sometimes when there are no fans you’re trying to get up for it.

Kirk Millar and Linfield players share in the celebrations with supporters inside Mourneview Park. Pic by Pacemaker.

“Also, sometimes at 1-0 down you need that extra nudge in the back from supporters to get you going again.

“It was really great to have them back again.”

Millar and his Linfield team-mates, having lifted the Irish Cup in Lurgan last Friday, now tackle Coleraine on Tuesday in a top-of-the-table clash which could result in a second trip back to Belfast as trophy winners inside five nights.

“That hunger’s in this squad,” said Millar, who won a league-and-cup double with the Blues in 2017. “We have a lot of experience in the changing room in terms of winning leagues and trophies.

“We have enough in there to drive us through to the end of the season.

“It’s been a tough season for everyone and the schedule has been crazy, but you have to deal with all that if you want to go and win major silverware.

“I started the semi-final in 2017 and was disappointed not to feature in the final, so I was really pleased to start against Larne and help get the team a trophy.

“We’ve got a massive game on Tuesday night and everything else will be put on hold until we secure the league title.

“We have two massive games left and, in my eyes, they’ll be like another two cup finals for us.

“We need to go about that challenge in the right away.

“Coleraine have been brilliant this season, they have a good squad of players and it’s always a hard place to go.

“We need to be right at it and produce another performance like the Irish Cup final.

“If we can do that, we should be alright.

“It was a good performance (on Friday).

“When you play Larne, you’re going to be in for a hard day at the office the way they play.

“I thought we worked our socks off and it paid off.

“Big Conor (Mitchell, Larne goalkeeper) had made a great save just before the opener, against Cammy (Palmer), so it was good to score soon after and go 1-0 up.

“Early goals change games but I thought we went about the game really well and everyone was on the same wavelength.

“We worked hard for each other.”

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