IRISH CUP FINAL: Coleraine’s Gareth McConaghie is looking to celebrate

Coleraine's Gareth McConaghie will be 30 years old on Cup Final day
Coleraine's Gareth McConaghie will be 30 years old on Cup Final day

As birthdays go Gareth McConaghie is hoping his 30th last long in the memory.

The big central defender reaches the milestone on Saturday, but the birthday celebrations will take a back seat on the day, for a while anyway.

McConaghie has the small matter of playing in the Irish Cup final first, but is hoping to make it a double celebration in the evening.

“It’s my birthday on Saturday, but it’s put on hold until after the game,” he said.

“If I wasn’t playing in the final I probably wouldn’t be up to very much now that I’ve a couple of young kids.

“This year though I’m lucky enough to be playing in an Irish Cup final,not many people get the opportunity to do that on their birthday.

“It will be another incentive for me to push on and bring home the cup.”

The Bannsiders suffered disappointment seven days ago when they were pipped to the League title by Crusaders.

But McConaghie said they have put it behind them.

“It hasn’t been that difficult because the Irish Cup final is a great occasion,” he said.

“Not many get the opportunity to play in a final never mind two in a row.

“Saturday was disappointing, but it’s great we can bounce back this Saturday with a final, and we have the chance to set the record straight from last year.”

McConaghie admitted last year was a learning curve for him and his team-mates as they went down 3-0 to Linfield.

“We know what to expect this season,” he said.

“There was a lot of hype last year because it was our first final in a while.

“When we got to the ground there was an unbelievable atmosphere, and personally I wasn’t used to that.

“So it was a big learning curve for me and I’m sure a lot of the other guys too, I think we’ll take that experience in to Saturday and hopefully capitalise on it.

“You always expect a busy afternoon when you come up against Cliftonville,” he said.

“They are a good side with great attacking threat, we have to make sure we keep them as quiet as possible. But we are looking forward to it.”