Larne frontman David McDaid hopes for Irish Cup glory
The Inver Park men have never lifted the prestige trophy having lost in five previous finals, their last way back in 2005 when a Vinny Arkins’ inspired Portadown came from behind to see them off.
However, having already won the County Antrim Shield this season after defeating Glentoran on penalties in January’s final, McDaid says finally claiming the Irish Cup would cap a superb season for Tiernan Lynch’s side.
The Creggan native is hoping that having been knocked out of the Irish Cup by Coleraine for the past three seasons - twice at the quarter-final stage and once in the semi-final - Larne can use that disappointment for extra motivation. Indeed, having won their last two games McDaid believes they may have rediscovered the early season form which had them as serious title contenders just in the nick of time.
“We have lost two quarter-finals and a semi-final over the last three years, with Coleraine knocking us out every time, so we are obviously happy to finally make it to the final and, so far, it has been a successful year all round,” stated for the former Derry City striker.
“Before Christmas we were flying and playing really well but then after the second Covid break, it killed us a bit. Coming back we just weren’t the same team and come January we dropped too many points, specially some stupid points at home. I think that cost us our title challenge to be honest.
“But look, we’ve got the Irish Cup Final. We have already won a cup final and if we secure Europe through either the Irish Cup or the league, then it will be more than what we’ve asked for this season.”
Having defeated David Healy’s men at Windsor Park last week to deny them their title celebrations, McDaid, who turned down the Blues in 2017 in favour of joining Larne, feels that loss will be something Linfield use to motivate them.
However the 30-year-old, who has scored 14 goals this campaign, also believes Joshua Robinson’s last minute winner last week will also give Larne the belief they can see off the Belfast men.
If Larne do win the Irish Cup, then McDaid will join former Derry City players Liam Coyle, Paul Doolin, Eamon Doherty, Ciaran Martyn and Darren Kelly who have also won the FAI Cup.
“Fingers crossed I can join those boys,” he added, “After beating Linfield last week it will give us confidence but it’s a cup final now and I think it will be another very tight game.
“After we beat them last week, obviously that will give them extra motivation but it also gives us that extra bit of confidence knowing that we can beat them. If they had beaten us going into a cup final against them you wouldn’t have been as confident. However, we beat them and were the better team on the day. Hopefully we can do it again on Friday.”
While McDaid hasn’t featured much in recent weeks, he admits he can’t complain too much as another ex-Derry City frontman, Ronan Hale, has been in scintillating form during this month. In fact, Hale, who has netted 18 times this season, has scored an impressive seven goals in five games during May and McDaid hopes that impressive goalscoring streak continues tonight.
“The last couple of weeks I haven’t been playing so obviously it has been hard to take but when the boys are flying and people are scoring goals, you can’t really complain,” he added.
“Ronan is absolutely flying. Everything he is hitting is ending up in the net and long may that continue. He’s playing really well and his all around game has been superb. He’s also a great lad off the pitch and he’ll be massive in the cup final for us.”
Since buying Larne in 2017, Kenny Bruce - who along with brother, Michael, formed digital property giant Purplebricks in 2012 - has transformed the club and his dream of the club seeing Champions League football at Inver Park is still on-going and something McDaid believes will happen in the coming years.
“The club, from a football perspective, is unbelievable. I don’t think there’s anywhere like it in Ireland. How quickly things are growing is incredible,” he insisted.
“To be honest, I do think that Larne as a club are going to be a major force in the years to come. It has all been ‘baby steps’ that the club has taken at the minute, but from when I first came to the club with the bad pitch, to the improvement on the pitch and also in the facilities; to full-time football and the academy and everything else, those baby steps mean Kenny’s end goal which was to have Champions League football at Inver Park has every chance of happening in the years to come. That was his main goal and it hasn’t changed.
“The whole youth academy set-up is quality so it’s all looking good for the long term future of the club and if we could win the Irish Cup, then that would also add to the club’s legacy.”