Belfast Telegraph

'The good times are back' as Linfield secure big Celtic game

By Allan Preston

Linfield will face Celtic for the first time in their history after the Blues beat La Fiorita to secure a Champions League qualifier at Windsor Park.

The first-time fixture will also bring a major payday for the Blues. The club is expected to pocket £1 million in revenue.

The Belfast side drew 0-0 last night in San Marino, meaning the 1-0 lead from the first leg was enough to see them through.

Minutes after the final whistle, manager David Healy commented: "We've earned the right to play a fantastic football club in Celtic. It wasn't pretty but it was effective. The players have worked their socks off."

Club legend Alan Dornan, who is the current Linfield Swifts coach, proclaimed: "The good times are back.

"It's a massive game for the club, I think our manager showed his quality and class tonight, I'm delighted for everybody," he told the Belfast Telegraph.

"It's not every day you play Celtic, and obviously Windsor Park's going to be absolutely bunged - I can't remember a bigger game than this."

While admitting last night's 0-0 result was no classic, he praised the team's discipline.

"It's a good advertisement for Irish League football. To play Celtic to get in to the Champions League, it doesn't get any better than that," he said.

The fixture has been moved from July 11 to July 14 over concerns tensions could flare up so close to the Twelfth.

Celtic have said they will not be selling tickets to their own supporters due to security concerns, while Linfield will announce ticketing arrangements shortly.

Mr Dornan said he would urge the focus to stay on the pitch. "I think people in Linfield are only concerned about one thing, the football. That's all Linfield and Celtic have been talking about," he said.

"It's huge, a Champions League game in Belfast and everybody should be proud of that fact. It could be any Irish League side, it wouldn't matter if it was Crusaders or Ballymena, it's massive for the Irish League and we should embrace that.

"You can't stop other things going on, that's just the world we live in, but we're focused on putting on a show and a good advert for Irish League football."

Belfast Telegraph

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