BetMcLean Cup


13 Mar 2023
© Jonathan Porter/INPHO Linfield scorers Joel Cooper and Chris Shields

Goals from Joel Cooper and Chris Shields early in the second half helped Linfield to victory over Coleraine in Sunday's BetMcLean Cup final at Windsor Park.

It was an 11th League Cup victory for the Blues, and also an 11th trophy for boss David Healy during his time at the club.

Cooper opened the scoring on 49 minutes after running onto a touch from Shields to lift the ball beyond keeper Gareth Deane into the corner of the net.

Linfield's second arrived on the hour from the spot, awarded after Stephen O'Donnell had clipped Chris McKee inside the area and converted by the calm headed and experienced Shields.

Healy was quick to pay tribute to both scorers after the game.

Cooper is now in his third spell at the club following a period in England with Oxford United, and Healy praised how the 27-year-old has adapted to life back in the Irish League.

"Joel has incredible ability. He got the move to England off the back of a really good solid spell of being one of the top players in this country.

"He tries, he's desperate and takes everything to heart at times but that to me is a good thing because he cares, he still wants to get to the player that he was.

"He's still a little bit short of that but he still has the hunger and mentality and the edge."

Shields came to Windsor Park from League of Ireland club Dundalk in 2021, with whom he picked up many honours during a glittering nine-year spell.

Referring to him as a 'serial winner', Healy remarked on Shields' continued commitment: "When we train sometimes you take some of the older players out of some of the sessions, to save them a little bit, but he wants to train in every minute of every session.

"It's an absolute credit to him being the serial winner and player that he is that he still has that hunger and desire."

© Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press