Ethan Devine programme article
Posted : 7th April 2023
Linfield striker Ethan Devine is hoping that his two goals in the Blues’ 5-0 win over Dungannon Swifts at Stangmore Park a fortnight ago can prove to be a platform for him to kick on and have a big impact in the five post-split fixtures.
“I was buzzing to be back in the team. I suppose, in a way, I had a stroke of luck in the sense that Kyle Lafferty had an illness and Eetu Vertainen was injured. I was delighted to be picked to fill in, in their absence and was really pleased to get the two goals, because the most important thing as a striker, is to score goals.
“Whether you’re a central defender, central midfielder, full-back or whatever; scoring a goal is the best thing you can do on a football pitch, in my view. To score for the biggest Club in Northern Ireland is the best feeling imaginable and my two goals against Dungannon have definitely boosted my confidence.
“All my teammates were very encouraging and they were telling me that it was a big opportunity for me to potentially get myself into the manager’s thoughts, ahead of the post-split fixtures. It’s been a couple of months since I’d been in the team, although I don’t really mind as I have been coming on quite regularly with a job to do as a substitute. Of course, starting matches is great and ideally, that’s what you want to be doing, but the most important thing is what’s best for the team and picking up wins.”
After signing from Knockbreda in the January window of last season, the 22-year-old centre forward’s impact in Linfield’s title run was immeasurable and he continued that run into this season with a very valuable winning goal against TNS in a Champions’ League Qualifier. However, he has struggled to break into the team for much of the season and he puts that down to the class of Eetu Vertainen who has struck 19 goals this season.
“My run of goals dried up probably because of Eetu’s excellent form. His stats are unbelievable, he can score goals and his all-round game is excellent. He might appear to ‘lazy’ at times but he will always score you goals. For the sake of the team and for Eetu, I hope he’ll be fit again soon.
“I still think I’ve developed this season. This is my first full year of Full-Time football. Growing up playing football, I was never part of the best teams and I was more focused on playing with my friends and enjoying it. Now that I’ve taken the jump to Full-Time football and challenged myself, it’s been a very good experience. It might not be as good on the legs, but I definitely enjoy it more.”
Looking ahead to tonight’s mouthwatering clash against Crusaders at Windsor Park, Devine touched on the fact that the Blues have only picked up one point from three League matches against the Crues this season and that’s something he believes can spur the team on to put right this evening.
“They’ve had the better of our tussles this season and we should feel like we owe them one on our home patch. No matter where you are sitting in the table, winning your first match in the split is always a massive incentive, to set you up for the remaining four fixtures. We know it won’t be easy, but we are at that stage where we can’t afford any slip-ups.
“We will give it everything to try and retain the title. This is new territory for Larne who have never been hunted down before. It’s the job of ourselves and Cliftonville just behind us, to keep the pressure on and see how they would handle it. The key for us is to make sure we are doing our job. That’s all we can control.
“Last year we were in a tight battle with Cliftonville and it went to the wire. Thankfully, we got over the line and the experience of that could possibly help us from here. As I touched on previously, I never played in the best teams growing up and last year was the first League title I’d ever won. I did have a few seasons finishing second in my youth career but at Linfield you don’t get the chance to fall short – you have to win.”
Devine finished by stating his belief that the Linfield supporters can be the team’s twelfth man, as we enter five ‘Cup finals’ in an attempt to claw back Larne’s five-point lead at the top.
“The Linfield fanbase is massive and they are the main part of what makes the Club what it is. They took to me very well from the start and I recall a great reception I got, when I scored on my debut against Mid-Ulster side Oxford Sunnyside. Whether it’s a tackle or a goal, or just a bit of hard work, the fans will always back you up and it’s key to have them with us for the split. They can play their part, certainly.”
Best wishes to Ethan and the team for tonight’s huge match and hopefully, between now and the end of the season, we will be celebrating more iconic match winning goals from the young forward who delivered on the big stage, when it mattered most at the end of last season.