Belfast Telegraph

Sports Awards

Pleasure Crues as Shield win ends trophy famine

By Graham Luney

Crusaders manager Stephen Baxter savoured the winning feeling again after a convincing Toals County Antrim Shield Final victory over Ballymena United at the Showgrounds last night.

The Crues failed to lift a trophy last season and stumbled late in the title race. This 4-2 Shield victory was their first trophy triumph since lifting the Gibson Cup in 2016.

Goals from Howard Beverland, Jordan Owens and Declan Caddell fired the Shore Road side 3-0 up at the break and even though Jonny McMurray and substitute Cathair Friel netted in the second half, Paul Heatley's 69th minute strike effectively killed the game.

"We lost this final last season and we have learned the lesson from that," said Baxter whose side were defeated by Linfield in the 2017 Shield decider.

"I said it was important to put a marker down and win a trophy. I said we aren't applauding anyone off this time - we have applauded too many teams off. It was time we won something for ourselves and we saw that with the celebrations. The players are enjoying that winning feeling and we have another four trophies to go for. It will be difficult to win them all but the boys will be brought down to earth and we have got to use this moment to kick on as these are special moments in our careers."

Belfast Telegraph

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