Belfast Telegraph

County Antrim Shield: Beaten Linfield will strike back, promises David Healy

By Graham Luney

David Healy believes his players will regroup quickly and resume their Premiership title bid with fierce determination after suffering County Antrim Shield final heartbreak last night.

Ballymena United stunned the Blues 3-2, denying Healy his first trophy as Linfield boss.

The Blues went into the Windsor Park showdown as favourites and on a high after dumping United out of the Irish Cup at the weekend but Glenn Ferguson's men danced on the pitch with the glittering prize at the finish.

Goals from Paddy McNally, David Cushley and Eoin Kane were decisive as only Guy Bates and Mark Stafford could reply and the woodwork denied Linfield twice in added time.

Healy was gutted to wave farewell to his first major shot at silverware but he backed his shattered players to come out fighting.

"The players were on a decent run and they are well aware of what is expected from them," said Northern Ireland's record goal scorer. "It's not nice when teams win trophies, especially on your own patch, but you've got to congratulate Ballymena United."

It was a game of fine margins and Linfield will consider themselves unlucky but Healy knew his side were also guilty of some hesitant defending.

He added: "I was still hopeful we could grab a goal near the end and we threw the kitchen sink at them but it wasn't to be.

"They have been beaten twice by us in the last few weeks and on Saturday but they battled well. Tonight was important for me as it would have put down a marker and you always want to win trophies. I said it three weeks ago when we played Ballymena we would probably lose one of the games as it's the way football is, it's hard to dominate all the time."

Healy couldn't hide his frustration but acknowledged a huge effort from the Braidmen.

"Fair play, they worked hard and showed character, they are a credit to their boss," added Healy. "The goals were disappointing and Cushley's goal was a killer because we were on top.

"The third one was poor defending as well, I could see where the player (Eoin Kane) was going to go and the lad finished it well. This is disappointing but we'll have to pick ourselves up."

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