Before signing for Larne in 2018, the only time Tomas Cosgrove visited the port city was to board a boat bound for Straner.
The Ou place feels like home to one of the club’s most influential players, a huge crowd favorite thanks to his ability to make waves moving forward on the right bank and perform defense work when his teammates find themselves Found in choppy water.
At 29, Cosgrove is playing the best football of his career and has become the most consistent performer in the Irish league. He smiles at the comparison that he is like a veteran Trai Hume, having left Linfield for Sunderland. Tonight at Seaview, the former Cliftonville Ace will be a key figure in the ToalsBet.com County Antrim Shield decider against the Blues.
Cosgrove is enjoying the prospect of a full home as last season’s penalty shoot-out win over Glentoran in the final was played in an empty stadium when Larne won their first trophy as a top flight team since 1987 .
“Without fans every game was like a training game, even the Shield finals,” he says.
“The only thing you heard was the coach and it wasn’t like your supporters roaring at you and the other team’s supporters patting you on the back. Having a crowd makes you play better so I’m really looking forward to this final.” Doing. Linfield.
“They always bring a great support and we will have a great support there so it will be a good opportunity. They are a very good team but I really enjoy playing against Linfield because they, Glentoran and Cliftonville bring a strong support.” And that adds to the atmosphere and makes Larne fans more excited for it and makes it a better spectacle.
“When our fans weren’t looking for us to win last season’s final, it would be huge for them if we could do it in front of them this time.”
1000 supporters in May , 500 from each club – the Irish Cup final was allowed to be won more strongly than a 2-1 scoreline suggested by Linfield.
“He’s dead in the water. That’s last season. You can’t think of that game,” comments Cosgrove.
“We have played Linfield since then and all the matches we have played in recent years have been really close. Everyone knows we let ourselves down in the Irish Cup final and Linfield played fair to him.”
When Cosgrove signed for Larne, he was in the championship. Manager Tyrone Lynch and coach Seamus Lynch were instrumental in the move, along with close friends Marty Donnelly, Christopher Ramsey and Conor Devlin from their Cliftonville days.
“I never thought I’d leave Cliftonville,” says Cosgrove, who grew up supporting the Reds.
“It’s my local club and I thought I’d be there forever but I didn’t see eye to eye with then manager Barry Gray and these things happen in football and I had to make a move.
“I’m really glad I did. It’s very pleasant to be in Larne. I didn’t think I’d see what happened to the club. When our boss Kenny Bruce was telling me about his plans, it was a Felt like a dream but he was right and everything he said would happen and you can see what it means for the people of Larne.
“I’ve never been in Larne before except to go out on a boat, but now I’m there a lot and it’s a great place and I love being a part of the club. It feels special.
“If you were a Larne supporter 20 or 30 years ago or just before Kenny arrived, you wouldn’t have imagined where we would be now. It’s not just about football. Kenny does a lot for the community and Larne does a lot for the community.” For a small town like this it’s great to see.”
Lea Bonis, Larne’s latest signing after switching from Portadown, is eligible to play tonight. The striker has been the most talked about player in the Irish league for the past fortnight.
What has Cosgrove ruled that made his transfer to Larne a huge success?
The defender says: “It’s great for Larne and the club guys to beat the competition from Glentoran and Linfield, who were interested in Lee and had to sign for us.
“He’s a different player than we have and he’ll give us a different dimension. He’s a strong guy and works really hard. I’ve actually seen him play against us, but you can’t judge him on that, Because no disrespect to Portadown, he’s going to get a lot of service in Larne.
“It will be interesting to see how Lee goes. Management and staff really like him and he has gotten most of the contracts so far and hopefully this is another one.”