Co Antrim Shield: Larne win trophy for third consecutive year

Larne came out on top against Linfield at a chilly Seaview on January 17 to retain the ToalsBet.Com Co Antrim Shield.

The east Antrim side defeated David Healy’s charges at the north Belfast venue in what was a repeat of last year’s decider.

Larne lifted the trophy in 2021, defeating Glentoran on penalties, before retaining the shield in 2022 with a 1-0 victory over the Blues.

The tie, played in front of a sell-out crowd, went straight to penalty kicks after finishing 0-0 at the end of normal time.

Larne players celebrate the win at Seaview. (Pic by Bill Guiller).

There were a number of talking points throughout Tuesday night’s clash, with Linfield having midfielder Kyle McClean sent off along with manager David Healy and his assistant Ross Oliver. Following these dramatic incidents, it was the Inver Park men who held their nerve to win the shoot-out 4-3.

Tomas Cosgrove, Paul O’Neill, Jeff Hughes and Mark Randall all found the net for Larne - Leroy Millar had his effort saved.

Linfield scored through Chris Shields, Chris McKee and substitute goalkeeper Chris Johns, with disappointment for Andy Clarke and Michael Newberry.

Following the win, the concerns of both sets of players and management teams turned to Linfield goalkeeper David Walsh, who had sustained a head injury after an incident late on in normal time.

After the south Belfast side’s goalkeeper had received medical attention on the pitch and a lengthy stoppage in play, the decision was taken for the final couple of minutes to be abandoned and the spot-kicks to be taken.

Comenting after full-time, a spokesperson for Linfield tweeted: “Everyone at Linfield FC would like to wish David Walsh a speedy recovery.”

A Larne FC spokesperson stated: “Wishing David Walsh a speedy recovery following tonight’s unfortunate injury.”

These sentiments were echoed on social media by Larne’s ‘keeper Rohan Ferguson, who said: “Outstanding tonight Walshy, speedy recovery.”

Tomas Cosgrove, who lifted the trophy for Tiernan Lynch’s team, said: “Wishing him a speedy recovery.”

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Larne’s inspirational playmaker Fuad Sule, who was named man of the match, tweeted his support for Walsh: “Speedy recovery pal.”

Providing an update on Twitter on January 18, Walsh said: “Thank you to everyone for there kind messages , Really appreciate it . Hopefully be back on the pitch soon.”

Meanwhile, Larne played out a 0-0 draw with Crusaders in the league on Saturday.