Belfast Telegraph

Mulgrew is fired up to weave more magic for Linfield

By Graham Luney

Now that he has agreed a new contract extension, Linfield favourite Jamie Mulgrew has never been hungrier to bring the glory days back to Windsor Park.

The County Antrim Shield final pain is still raw. Ballymena United's ecstasy contrasted with the Blues' and David Healy's agony.

It was another body blow to a proud Blueman and midfield enforcer who has golden memories of winning six doubles in seven seasons.

With each passing year the magnitude of that achievement becomes clearer but now Linfield are playing catch up in the title race - nine points behind the Crues - and the Irish Cup could become their only shot at silverware this campaign.

Healy and co. face the Sky Blues again at the Showgrounds today knowing there is little margin for error in the bid to net a first title since 2012.

In Linfield's 126 year history the club has gone more than four years without winning the league title on only four occasions - the lean years beginning in 1914, 1923, 1935 and 1994.

It could be 2016 will be added to that grim list unless they can hunt down the Hatchetmen.

"It's Crusaders' title to lose and all we can do is put them under pressure by winning matches," said Mulgrew who has agreed a two-year contract extension.

"Hopefully when they slip up we will be able to capitalise. We have to look after ourselves and while it's an uphill task we will give it our best shot."

Linfield were unfortunate in the Shield final, striking the woodwork on three occasions during the 3-2 loss but like the winner he is, Mulgrew is not making excuses.

"We were disappointed after the Shield final as we didn't feel we had performed to the standard we had set in previous matches," he added.

"We didn't perform on the night, Ballymena United had a gameplan and they made it work, deservedly winning the trophy.

"It's ifs and buts for us now but it's a learning experience for the players and hopefully we will remember this feeling when another opportunity to win a trophy comes along."

Despite the tough times that Linfield have endured, Mulgrew has always remained committed to the Windsor cause.

"This new deal will hopefully take me up to my 13th year and I will continue to give my absolute best for the club," added the former Northern Ireland international.

"We all want to be winning silverware again and are hungry to bring those days back.

"I haven't wanted to play anywhere else and hopefully with the new manager putting his stamp on the team we can keep improving and challenging for honours."

Linfield have added Ruairi Croskery to their squad.

The 19-year-old striker has returned home from Manchester United and he has represented Northern Ireland at under-17 level.

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