Belfast Telegraph

Crusaders title win: We'll get even better and win more, blasts boss Stephen Baxter

By Graham Luney

Stephen Baxter has warned Crusaders' rivals his back to back title winners are hungry for even more success.

The Crues boss is coming to terms with his club's stunning achievement after securing successive league championships for the first time in their 118-year history.

A 3-1 victory over Cliftonville at Solitude kicked off a huge party as Linfield are eight points adrift with only two games remaining.

The north Belfast history makers will cherish the moment but it won't be long before they set their sights on more heroics.

"The standards we set ourselves are incredibly high and they will get even higher as we will not sit back and say that's good enough," said Baxter.

"You have to keep pushing to get better as the moment you stop doing that you are dead in this game.

"I give the players so much credit for what they have achieved. You've got to get the consistency and bond in the team and we have got that.

"It was a tougher campaign because we had to dig results out and the competition behind us was stronger.

"I heard other managers saying they tried so hard against us so that summed it up for me. You've got to respond to that and our boys were front runners from October.

"These are great players and great players achieve great things. This is a proud moment in the history of the club and a proud moment for me.

"When the question was asked of us we responded with big wins against the likes of Linfield and Glenavon and that's the mark of champions."

Matthew Snoddy, who had a loan spell at Coleraine during the first title win, was thrilled to make a bigger impact this time.

The midfielder said: "I saw the boys last year and got a taste of what it might be like to win the league and it was my motivation.

"I'm so proud it's hard to find the words. At the start of the season I thought I would never get in this team but credit to the manager for believing in me.

"I was happy for the lads last year as a Crues fan but this is something special."

Paul Heatley, who netted a brace last night, was enjoying the post match celebrations.

"It's sweeter than last season," said Heatley. "The guys have worked extremely hard and deserve this.

"We dominated the game from the start. There's a great team spirit here and the celebrations are fantastic."

Skipper Colin Coates added: "Cliftonville broke the Linfield monopoly and that gave us the belief small clubs could achieve it and it's going to be more difficult next season.

"To me Paul (Heatley) is the best player in the league."

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