Irish Cup final: Linfield fought like wounded animals after being doubted - Mulgrew

Watch: Dominant Linfield beat Larne to lift the Irish Cup

Linfield captain Jamie Mulgrew says his side used last week's defeat by Larne to fuel their Irish Cup-winning performance against the same side.

The Blues dominated their opponents to claim a 2-1 win that was more comfortable than the scoreline suggests.

A week ago, Larne scored late to beat Linfield in a game that could have seen the Blues secure the league title.

"We were very wounded after last Saturday," admitted Mulgrew.

"We knew that we didn't do ourselves justice and obviously we bounced back extremely well on Tuesday night [against Ballymena United in the semi-final]. Every single one of us looked like wounded animals. "

It was a first cup triumph since 2017 for Linfield, who can secure a league and cup double this Tuesday when they meet Coleraine, knowing that a point will be enough to retain their league title.

Should they replicate their cup final performance, few would bet against them. First half goals from Shayne Lavery and Joel Cooper saw the Belfast side seize control of the contest and while Jeff Hughes struck in injury time to provide Larne with the faintest glimmer of hope, Linfield were full value for their win.

"We were very hungry, we had fire in the belly to win a trophy tonight and give us a platform to possibly go on to do a double and put ourselves as a squad and as a team in the long history of this successful football club," said Mulgrew, who produced an excellent midfield performance.

"I feel I need to do that (because) I'm the captain of this football club; I need to set an example, I need to set high standards. I put that pressure on myself."

'I get a buzz off being written off' - Healy

Linfield's record 44th Irish Cup success will go some way to expelling the memories of last season's shock fifth round defeat at the hands of Championship side Queen's University, for which manager David Healy and his side were widely criticised.

"We were beaten up last year, we lost away to Queen's, we were beaten up probably rightly so because of the performance and result," said Healy, who has now won seven trophies as Linfield boss.

"90% of the same players were here tonight, so they proved it was a one off. They proved their character, mentality and toughness."

Linfield celebrate
Linfield have now lifted the Irish Cup a record 44 times

In Friday's final Linfield arguably should have enjoyed a more comfortable win had they not passed up several gilt-edged opportunities to put the game beyond Larne's reach.

The performance backed up their semi-final display against Ballymena on Tuesday, in which they clinically dispatched the Sky Blues with minimal fuss to cruise into the showpiece.

"Credit to these players, they get written off and myself as a manager I get written off, I actually enjoy it; I get a buzz off it in a sad way at times," Healy said.

"I'm immensely proud of the players tonight, the way they approached the game, played the game, managed the game and eventually won the game."

"You don't get long. You play the semi-final on Tuesday and you have basically 48 hours to not only recover, but assess. We were prepared, and I think in our performance tonight we got the right information, the right players and the right result."

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