Belfast Telegraph

We can make it an (almost) unbeaten 2017, insists Linfield's Niall Quinn

Dungannon Swifts 0 Linfield 4

By Adrian Rutherford

Niall Quinn insists Linfield will not allow their focus to slip despite a "perfect" start to their title defence.

The champions have picked up where they left off last term. Quinn had a starring role in a comprehensive victory against Dungannon, scoring one and setting up another. Already it seems David Healy's side will be the team to beat in the months ahead.

Quinn is remaining cautious, insisting on taking it one game at a time, but he sees no reason why their unbeaten domestic run - which stretches back almost to the start of the year, a 1-0 home defeat against Coleraine on January 3 - has to end anytime soon.

"Three wins from three and three clean sheets - it's a perfect start from us," he said.

"Since Coleraine beat us in January we've been on some run. We're looking to go the whole way to next January - to keep it going. That's the objective, but we'll take each game as it comes."

Quinn was the standout player in another emphatic Linfield win. Paul Smyth headed them into a 21st-minute lead.

Quinn then scored the goal of the game, hitting an unstoppable left-foot drive after a free-kick was knocked into his path.

He turned provider for the third, delivering the corner which was met by Mark Haughey before going in via Dungannon's Seanan Clucas.

Andrew Mitchell scored the Blues' fourth from the penalty spot late on and Quinn admitted to a satisfying afternoon.

"That was our main objective - to come here and get three points," he added.

"To score four goals and keep a clean sheet is very nice. I don't score too often, although I did get one here last season as well, so that was very pleasing too. The goal was a wee training ground one we had been working on. Hopefully, there will be a few more to come.

"It's about momentum, going into each and every game," he added. "Obviously when we come up against the stronger teams we will be able to take the momentum into those games and hopefully do well."

While much was made of the Swifts loss of attacking talent like Andrew Mitchell and Jamie Glackin, so far the problem has been at the other end. It is nine goals conceded so far, and boss Rodney McAree feels the vast majority could have been stopped.

"If we concede goals the way we have we will lose games," he said. "They were all preventable - they were all poor goals."

Dungannon: Addis, McMenamin, Armstrong, Clucas, Wilson, O'Rourke, Hutchinson (Fitzpatrick, 73 mins), Harpur (Mayse, 73 mins), Burke (Teggart, 73 mins), McElroy, McMahon. Unused subs: Coleman, Brennan.

Linfield: Carroll, Stafford, Haughey, Casement, Garrett (Lowry, 70 mins), Mitchell, Mulgrew, Millar, Quinn, J Stewart (Clarke, 60 mins), Smyth (Burns, 74 mins). Unused subs: C Stewart, Robinson.

Referee: Keith Kennedy (Lisburn).

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