WHEN Howard Beverland takes to the field at the Ballymena Showgrounds on Saturday, he’s hoping for a change in fortune in cup finals, having experienced disappointment twice before in his Coleraine career.
In 2008, he was unable to play in the Irish Cup Final through injury and although he started the 2010 League Cup decider, it ended in heartbreak as he was forced off injured and Coleraine suffered defeat on penalties.
“Missing the 2008 Irish Cup Final was really disappointing, but the thing about moments like that, is that they either spur you on or you stand still,” Beverland told Times Sport. “Some players only ever get one chance to play in a cup final, but I was fortunate enough to be able to play against Glentoran when we reached the League Cup Final two years ago.
“Again the result was disappointing and I honestly believe that if Carson and Dooley had been fully fit, the result would have been different.
“It came at a time when I was getting my first real run of games at centre half and although it was quite daunting, going directly up against top players like Gary Hamilton and Michael Halliday, I felt I gave a good account of myself.
“It’s nice to be going into this final having played all season there and having done quite well throughout.”
Much of Coleraine’s good form this season has been built on a solid defensive base, with Beverland striking up a strong partnership with club captain David Ogilby.
“Ever since he arrived at the club last season, we’ve played together a lot and built up a good understanding,” he said. “Even though OG is still quite young, he’s been playing in the league for a long time and has a lot of experience.
“If we can keep a clean sheet in the final we have a great chance of winning the game, because the attacking players we have are always capable of scoring goals.”
The run to the final has been an eventful one for Beverland personally, who opened his goalscoring account for the club in the third round win at Newry and played a key role in the dramatic semi-final victory over Cliftonville.
“It was great to score in that game down at Newry, it was a very important goal as it got us up and running early on in that game and set us on the way to victory, in what was a potentially tricky tie for us,” he said.
“The semi-final was one of those games that’ll stay with me for the rest of my career. The character and determination of everyone to keep going when things seemed to be going against us really shone through, especially after they were awarded that rather dubious penalty.
“We kept going and so many times this season our fitness levels have really kicked in towards the end of matches and that was a prime example. When Blackie scored his goal I don’t think anyone could say it wasn’t deserved.
“There’s a verse I like, ‘Those who persevere to the end will receive their reward’ and that has been very true of us this season.”
As I’m sure all Coleraine fans would agree, Beverland deserves his reward on January 28.