Coleraine defender Lyndon Kane believes success in the form of the BetMcLean League Cup could act as a springboard for the rest of the campaign.
The Bannsiders aim to retain the trophy they won in 2020 as they face in-form Cliftonville at the National Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
Kane and his team-mates still have fond memories of the 2-1 win against Crusaders two years ago with the nucleus of that squad still there under the tutelage of Oran Kearney.
With the Bannsiders not reaching the heights of recent League campaigns, as well as being knocked out of the Irish Cup last week, Kane knows that success on Sunday could yield confidence as they still target European qualification.
“Winning the League Cup was massive for me as I had missed out playing in the Irish Cup final because of injury,” the Coleraine native said.
“I played in the Irish Cup defeat to Linfield and missed the one that we won against Cliftonville.
“For me, that day winning the League Cup, was a sign of relief because I hadn't played in a cup final that we had won. It was one of them ones where I was desperate to get my hands on a trophy.
“I was glad it came and hopefully we can do the same again this year. Obviously, I still say I've won the Irish Cup but, in my head, I don't have a medal.
“Effectively that was my first senior trophy and even that day lifting the trophy with Stevie O’Donnell because we'd probably played the same number of games that season, definitely holds a special place.
“Our league form hasn't been great this year, it's been well documented, but the cups have probably come at a good time in the season, came in between bad spells and we've done well in them.
“So, for us, to win the first trophy available would be unreal and for it to happen in March it could be the best thing to happen to us.
“After that, you could potentially push for finishing as high as possible in the top six and prepare for European play-off games as well. It's crazy the momentum that could come with that and you just never know where it would take you.”
The 25-year-old was full of praise for Paddy McLaughlin’s side for their efforts so far this season but knows the Bannsiders have winners of their own in their team.
“The belief is always there in our camp, it's there going into league games against Cliftonville, Glentoran, Linfield,” he added.
“Whoever we play you always believe you're going to win because if you don't, I feel there's no point in playing.
“For us as well, we've got a lot of winners in our changing room – there's probably about 13/14 players left from the Irish Cup success in 2018.
“Then you've got Stevie Lowry coming into that as well who has a wealth of experience having won leagues and Irish Cups with Linfield.
“Cup games are one-off games, form goes completely out the window and it’s a bit like a derby game. In cup football anything can happen, you just never know what it can throw up.
“It's a level playing field though we probably do go in as slight underdogs because of the way they've played this season but it's a challenge we welcome. That’s testament to Paddy and his players and the way they've performed this season.
“When they beat Warrenpoint a couple of weeks ago I looked at the league table and I couldn't believe it. I didn't realise how close they were to Linfield and Glentoran, for them, at this stage of the season, to be sitting at the top with two full-time teams is unbelievable.
“Yes, they have done well to get to the final of this competition but in cup competitions, anything can happen on any given day, you just never know.”
Kane acknowledged that returning to the trophy could spark a few days of celebrations on the north coast.
“If you win a cup you treat it if as it's going to be your last,” he continued.
“The party that goes on in the town for two or three days is something you want to be a part of, and they are memories you'll never forget.
"It would be testament to Oran and the job he's done and testament to the players. He looks after them, second to none, and hopefully we can repay that faith that he's shown in us.
“Even Colin and the Board, the work that they do for us behind the scenes that no-one sees – food, milk shakes, ice baths now going in the changing room, sauna, 3G pitch, state of the art changing room. It would be brilliant to repay that faith.
“I'd be very friendly with Gareth Deane and played a part in trying to convince him to come – you want him to experience the big days and nights at Coleraine.”