Belfast Telegraph

Christmas is all about beating the Glens: Healy

By David Mason

David Healy makes no bones about it - three points from Boxing Day's big two derby against Glentoran at Windsor Park sit at the top of his Christmas wish list.

The Blues approach the showdown in the best possible shape, having nicked an injury time winner against Ballymena United last weekend, whereas defeats in their last two Danske Bank Premiership games have left the Glens marooned in the bottom five.

However, Healy's boys still trail table topping Crusaders by five points, so he knows there is no room for error.

"I enjoy Christmas but, in the back of my mind, I know what Boxing Day means," said Healy. "I know what it means to the supporters.

"Going back to last year, I was desperate for a result in my first Big Two Boxing Day game. We were lucky to get the game on due to the state of the pitch, all the talk was about the game being postponed because parts of the playing surface was waterlogged.

"Thankfully it took place and, as a fan, I was desperate to win at the Oval on Boxing Day. And it's no different this time in the reverse fixture at Windsor Park. I'm equally determined to win it - in front of our home fans.

"It will be tough. Whether Glentoran come here in good form, bad form or indifferent form, they will come and they'll lay it down.

"We'll need to to show the same character we showed against Ballymena last week."

The general perception is that form usually means nothing in derby games, but Healy has his own ideas.

He added: "Glentoran lost last week, but it's a Big Two derby - it can be unpredictable. It's the same in any game between rival teams in any league all over the world.

"However, people always say that form goes out the window, I don't think it does. When you go into a game in good form, I would suggest you've got a better chance of winning that game."

Healy will again be without star man Paul Smyth due to injury and defensive tower Mark Stafford, who is suspended.

"Paul is still missing which is a blow to us," added the former Northern Ireland favourite.

"We certainly miss his pace and energy. You always want Paul Smyth in your team, whether he is 50 or 100 per cent fit.

"I don't think he'll be included in the squad. He was still wearing his plastic protective boot. Mark has been superb for us defensively and is always a danger at set pieces.

"Sean Ward struggled to complete the 90 minutes against Ballymena. I know, being an ex-Glentoran player, he'll be busting a gut to be fit for the match. We all know what derby games mean to him. Hopefully, he'll be fit."

Healy admitted he was thrilled with the passion and commitment his boys displayed last week to snatch a win - especially as they had conceded a penalty kick, which was converted by Tony Kane, just three minutes from time.

"Expectation levels are to win games at this club," he added. "Sometimes people don't take into consideration the quality of the opposition - for instance, Ballymena are the fourth best team in the league at the minute, based on their position in the table.

"We don't score too many late winners, so it's important to be like the Linfield of old - keep banging the door down until you get that late winner.

"With Crusaders and Cliftonville winning at the weekend, it was crucial we got full points against Ballymena.

"It's fair to say the team I came into last year would not have won that game, so there are signs that we have moved forward.

"This club have always had quality players. I believe they are good enough, as a team, to break the barren trophy spell."

Belfast Telegraph


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