ONCE they were the hottest propects in Irish League football.
David Jeffrey was the shining star in local football, managing his beloved Linfield FC.
And helping him to win a bagful of trophies as the Blues manager was the hot shot striker Glenn Ferguson.
Tonight Jeffrey and Ferguson will be very much the deadly rivals as they do battle at the Oval in east Belfast in the Co Antrim Shield final (kick off 7.45pm).
Linfield beat the Ballymena blues on Saturday with a 2-1 win.
But manager David Jeffrey not taking that scoreline as a yardstick on tonight’s outcome.
The bookmakers have them as red hot favourite. In a previous encounter, Jeffrey’s boys hammer his young pretender’s side 6-0.
“I would refute that we are favourites and we are certainly not in my mind – look at the table,” said Jeffrey.
Ballymena boss Glenn Ferguson said “we’ll definitely be underdogs”.
The Braidmen have gone 23 years without a trophy and they lost out to Linfield in the Shield decider in 2006, their last appearance in a final.
“It ultimately comes down to which teams turns up on the night and we’ll have 16 boys ready for it,” added Ferguson.
“I will just tell the lads to express themselves, enjoy the occasion and not to be nervous.”
Jeffrey, who has five Co Antrim Shields among his 30 trophies as manager, believes Saturday’s win over Ballymena will not be factor.
“It will have no bearing on the game despite being so close to the final,” he added.
“Ballymena are in their first final for a long time so their players will be fired up.
“It is a vitally important game for us and my players will be very focused for it.
“I don’t think there is anything between the teams and this is not kidology – the league table doesn’t lie.”
Linfield striker Mark McAllister is suspended while midfielder Jamie Mulgrew is doubtful with an ankle injury.
United have the versatile Mark Surgenor back after a ban while captain Allan Jenkins could return from a medial ligament injury.
* Joel Taggart presents coverage of Tuesday’s County Antrim Shield final on BBC Radio Ulster medium wave.
Joel will be joined by Crusaders manager Stephen Baxter with commentary from Michael McNamee and Coleraine boss and former Linfield and Ballymena player Oran Kearney.
The programme starts at 7.30pm and the game is played to a finish.