BetMcLean Cup


10 Mar 2023
© Pacemaker Press

Sunday's BetMcLean Cup final promises to be one to savour pitching, as it does, a Coleraine side looking to exorcise demons from twelve months ago against a Linfield team aiming to rekindle their historic dominance of the competition.

Who can forget how close the Bannsiders came this time last year to lifting the trophy for only the third time in club history? They were undone by a Cliftonville equaliser deep, deep into stoppage time before going on to lose a man and two further goals in extra-time.

That they are back in the final once more, their third successive decider not withstanding the season lost to Covid-19, is testament to the resilience and desire instilled within the team by boss Oran Kearney.

"We've hit three finals in three seasons. We've won one, we've lost one, and we go to this one where we want to put right the heartache of last year but I would still rather go through that experience than be sitting watching it on tv and not be a part of it," said Kearney.

Coleraine reached Sunday's showdown after seeing off Dergview, Ballymena United and Dungannon Swifts in the earlier rounds before exacting revenge upon the Reds via a penalty shoot-out in the semi-finals.


Ten-times winners, Linfield's journey has taken them to victories over Moyola Park, Dundela and Annagh United and then great rivals Glentoran in the last four conceding just one goal en route.

Boss David Healy is looking forward to Sunday's final after attending as a spectator last season.

"I went to the final last year, the huge crowd and the buzz around makes it a little bit sweeter this year that we're going to get the opportunity to play a major part in it.

"I imagine it will be very tight and will be probably won or lost by small margins, and I just hope by the end of the day that we are good enough to be on the end of some of the small margins in our favour," he said.

They limbered up with a hard fought top of the table draw with Larne on Tuesday evening, while Kearney's charges ran out comfortable winners against derby rivals Ballymena United.

The sides have met three times this season, the first two ended scoreless but the most recent encounter - at the end of last month - saw the Blues come out on top thanks to goals from Chris Shields and Eetu Vertainen.

Sunday's game will be officiated by referee Lee Tavinder, alongside assistants Paul Robinson and Bogdan Sfirloaga, while Jamie Robinson assumes fourth official duties.

The game will be broadcast on Sky Sports, with coverage beginning at 2:30pm.

Tickets are still available from