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Taking Curr of the good days

Chris Curran reflected on one of Paddy McLaughlin’s last games as Manager of Institute as he savoured the emotions of yesterday’s League Cup Final victory over Coleraine.

Curran was introduced from the bench in the early stages of the second-half at Windsor Park and promptly saw the Bannsiders race into what looked like an unassailable 2-0 lead.

Goals from fellow substitutes Joe Gormley and Paul O’Neill sent the tie into extra-time, during which the same duo netted again en route to a 4-3 success that saw captain Curran proudly raise the trophy on high afterwards.

It wasn’t long before his mind drifted back to December 2018 and another madcap encounter – a barely believable 6-4 defeat to Institute at The Brandywell, where Cliftonville had twice trailed, fought back from 3-1 down to level and missed a penalty seconds before having their goalkeeper sent off in conceding a spot-kick at the other end.

“Mental game, the maddest game ever,” said Curran of the contest that ultimately set the wheels in motion of Stute boss McLaughlin’s move to Solitude.

“I remember sitting across from Joe on the bus on the way home and just looking at him thinking ‘just give us one more good day’. Hopefully there are good times ahead for us, don’t let it just be those days in the past, we don’t want to just talk about those days forever.

“We don’t still train and go in every night just to make up the numbers or to pick up a wage, we want to be successful. I know he Joe still has that hunger and I know I do too. It’s the same with everyone in our changing room and hopefully there are special days to come.”

Yesterday’s triumph was Curran’s fourth League Cup success and, having been an injury-enforced absentee from the – typically chaotic – County Antrim Shield Final victory over Ballymena United in January 2021, the 31-year-old is hoping to get to grips with more silverware in the years to come.

“There have been a lot of disappointing days and it just feels like relief more than anything to get across the line with this group and with this Manager,” he added.

“The amount of work that has been going on over the last three or four years, everyone has talked about that transition period, I hope that we are seeing that come to fruition now. That is the hope.

“I said a couple of years back when we won the County Antrim Shield that that would maybe be the springboard for us to go and be successful, but it has maybe been one step back to go two steps forward. We are hoping this is the time now for us to push on and do something special.”