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Football: SEASON TO BE CHEERFUL; COLERAINE v GLENTORAN IRISH CUP FINAL, WINDSOR PARK Haveron: We'll miss Packie.. but I aim to do his No10 shirt proud.


GARY Haveron knows he'll be trying to replace the irreplaceable today - but he is determined to do Pat McAllister proud and help Coleraine retain their Nationwide Irish Cup crown.

Haveron is the only new face in today's showpiece final at Windsor Park and while his teammates and Glentoran did it all before 12 months ago, the former Wolverhampton and Distillery defender is ready to play in the biggest match of his life.

The 23-year-old gets his chance due to the controversial suspension of McAllister. And although the Coleraine skipper is privately gutted, he has put his own disappointment to one side for the good of Haveron and the team.

"Packie has been brilliant to me since this all happened," he said.

"The suspension has been heart-breaking for Packie, but he's kept all that to himself and played the captain's role as normal. He has had plenty to say as always!"

Haveron, signed from Distillery during the summer as a left sided utility player, is ready to fill a physical engine room role for Marty Quinn's side.

"Marty sees me as being able to do Packie's role as a defensive midfielder and gave me a video of last year's final to study how he played and I've to shape myself on how he would do it," explained Haveron.

"Pat is a great leader and virtually impossible to replace, but I want to do his No10 jersey justice."

Coleraine will have another experienced campaigner in Tony Gorman as captain today - but the Bannsiders intend to honour Packie if they manage to retain the trophy they won against the Glens last year.

"Tony is captain on the day but if we win hopefully he and Packie will lift the trophy together - that would be a fairytale situation for us," said Haveron.

Haveron travels to training with fellow Larne man Gareth McAuley and the big defender has told him what to expect on cup final day.

"When I was at Bolton I played in the reserve premier league at places like Old Trafford and Anfield, but in terms of atmopshere and importance with live TV, this will be the biggest occasion I've ever experienced," he said.

"Gareth's been telling me what it's like and I think the rest of the lads are a little bit more relaxed than they were last year.

"They know how to deal with nerves and when you have guys like Tony Gorman and Stephen Beatty around - who've been there and done it - it definitely helps.

"Glentoran lifted the standard of Irish League football last year and I think people expected them to go on from that this season but like us they had a disappointing league campaign.

"They're strong all over the park but both teams need this win to qualify for Europe so we're expecting a hard, physical game."

Haveron, who scored against the Glens in a 1-0 league win earlier in the season, also insists Coleraine are underdogs for today's final.

"Yeah, we are the underdogs just like last year, but if every Coleraine player does his job, I see no reason why we can't take the Irish Cup back to Coleraine again."

After over six years in England with Wolves, Bolton, Swindon and Yeovil, Haveron was lured home to the Irish League by Paul Kirk and Lisburn Distillery.

Although he had a great relationship with the Whites' boss he was tempted to the north-west last summer by Quinn and hasn't looked back since.

"I was captain at Distillery and it was hard to leave but there were a few clubs interested in me and Marty promised me Coleraine would be challenging for league titles and getting to Cup finals - and that's exactly what's happened," he said.

"I started the season pretty slowly but things have come together in the last few months and I've really enjoyed my first season at the club.

"The reason I came to Coleraine was for matches like this so it's up to me to take my chance and maybe even be the hero, who knows?"

In Coleraine's No10 shirt, anything is possible.


LAST YEAR: Packie McAllister lifted the trophy for Coleraine
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Copyright 2004 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:May 1, 2004
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