IRISH CUP: Harkin looking forward to Linfield test

Coleraine's Ciaron Harkin celebrates with manager Oran Kearney after their Irish Cup semi-final win over Glenavon.

Coleraine's Ciaron Harkin celebrates with manager Oran Kearney after their Irish Cup semi-final win over Glenavon.

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Former Institute man Ciaron Harkin is hoping he can better the last time he played at Windsor Park, when Coleraine take on Linfield in the Tennent’s Irish Cup Final next month.

The talented midfielder, who played a major role in ’Stute’s Intermediate Cup Final win over Ards at the National Stadium last year, is looking for a similar out-come against the Blues.
“It wasn’t a bad night the last time I played at Windsor,” he stated.
“The Intermediate Cup Final, we beat Ards 3-1 and that was probably the best night of my career so far, but now the Irish Cup Final, if we can get a result in that, it will probably better that because it’s a high standard and better cup.”
The 21-year-old has been on a remarkable run with the Bannsiders since his move from Drumahoe.
In fact Harkin hasn’t had a defeat while playing in the Coleraine jersey, he has played in Oran Kearney’s side unbeaten 15 match run - winning 13 games and drawing two.
“I came in three months ago and I haven’t lost a match, so hopefully we can keep it going for the rest of the season. Win our last five league games and then win the Irish Cup Final I can’t complain then,” he joked.
“When I first started talking to Oran about signing, they were at the end of a run of six matches in a row without a win, before I even signed they got three wins in a row and now we have 15 matches in a row that we haven’t lost a game.
“It’s not good to be saying it’s easy, because it’s a hard league but hopefully we can keep winning matches.”
Harkin along with fellow young players Brad Lyons, Lyndon Kane, Jamie McMonigle, Adam Mullan and Christopher Johns have stolen somewhat of the lime-light, but the ex-Derry City starlet believes the whole Coleraine squad are playing their part in the recent success.
“The atmosphere amongst the squad is brilliant,” he added.
“When I was at Institute everyone was tight, but when I came here I just gelled in straight away and even the fans sticks with us.
“There are more fans here than at ’Stute or any of the other teams I have played for and it’s great that they too stick together with the team, hopefully everyone continues to stick together and that we continue our run for the rest of the season.”
The former St Joseph’s student feels the Bannsiders should have nothing to fear when they face David Healy’s side in next month’s showpiece final.
“Before I even signed I was speaking to Oran and he said to me ‘if you sign for me now, I’ll start you against Linfield at Windsor’, but I hadn’t made a decision so I couldn’t play in the game, but they won 1-0,” he confirmed.
“They might be ahead of us in the league, one space ahead of us, a few points above us but they are there for the taking.
“We beat the league champions (Crusaders) a few weeks ago, we can beat anybody. We go into every game confident and everyone’s mentality going into games is that we aren’t going to lose.”
Harkin was thrilled after their last-minute semi-final win over Glenavon and already can’t wait for the blue-ribbon final.
“I’m absolutely buzzing and what a match it was. We were 1-0 up but after we scored that’s when we started to play our worst and then they got an equaliser and anything could have happened then.
“Thankfully for us we scored an 89th minute goal, with a bit of luck and that’s us now into the final and I can’t wait for it.
“We know we’ll have a big support making the trip to Windsor for the final, we know that Linfield will also have a big support as well, but for us it’s just another game and hopefully another win.”