Final marred as firework hits Linfield footballer
Conor Hagan admitted to being a lucky man after escaping uninjured when a firework exploded inches from him seconds after the conclusion of tonight's County Antrim Shield final.
The Linfield player was lying on the Windsor Park turf when the firework, thrown from the North Stand by jubilant Cliftonville fans after their 2-1 victory in the match, landed next to him and went off.
Medics rushed to his aid, but Hagan, who is a former Cliftonville player, was able to collect his runners-up medal and was left unmarked.
"I was lying on the ground disgusted with the result and didn't see the firework coming," said Hagan.
"It hit me on the back when it went off and it was more the bang that scared me and I was in shock for few seconds.
"It could have been a lot worse so I am relieved that I am not injured."
Linfield manager David Jeffrey said: "The last thing that I want to do is inflame the situation.
"I don't want to talk about one idiot, but it has got to be condemned outright."
Cliftonville players also had missiles thrown at them on their way off the pitch after celebrating their second Shield victory in just over 18-months. Ironically Hagan was on the losing Lisburn Distillery side when Eddie Patterson's side last won it.
"I don't even want to highlight it that much, it only gives these people publicity," said Patterson, who was the subject of a death threat before the Irish Cup semi-final between the sides last season, with a bullet sent through the post.
"It has no place in football.
"Some of my own players had missiles thrown at them, but I would rather talk about the Linfield fans who applauded us off the pitch, that's what football's about."