Belfast Telegraph

We've blown our hopes of retaining the title, admits Healy


By Alex Mills

Linfield boss David Healy admits his team's title chances have gone.

The Blues fell to their first defeat by Big Two rivals Glentoran in 14 outings at The Oval - a run stretching back to 2011 - but it was one that really killed off any hopes of them retaining the Gibson Cup.

Big Cameron Stewart shot the Blues into the lead, but Curtis Allen's first-half strike and a deflected Robbie McDaid effort sent the Glentoran fans into a frenzy.

The Blues are now a whopping 15 points adrift of Danske Bank Premiership table toppers Coleraine - a gap which Healy believes is a bridge too far.

"Our title chances have gone," said Northern Ireland's record goalscorer.

"We have fluffed too many games. We have fluffed too many chances and conceded too many silly goals.

"For us to win the league, it would take an incredible collapse by the teams above us and, to be honest, there is not much chance of that happening. I can't see that happening. Their form is too good.

"We are lagging at the minute, which is disappointing considering where we were last season. We wanted to kick on after that title win. We came into the new season as champions, but we - and I include myself - have not done enough this year and that's why we are where we are in the league table."

It was Healy's first Big Two defeat since taking over the Windsor hotseat and, ahead of a huge clash with Crusaders on Saturday, he added: "It hurts, just like losing a cup final. I know what it means to me personally and also the club and the supporters.

"I am hugely disappointed. We have to bounce back. There'll be no hiding place against the Crues."

With new signing Kurtis Byrne primed to make his debut early in the new year, Healy hasn't ruled out further signings.

"We will try and add to the squad," he added. "We need a few new faces to bring a new freshness, new blood.

"I've already one player in, but I'm hoping to have another one or possibly two."

Glens boss Gary Haveron hailed his team's performance, but insists it has to be the platform for the rest of the season.

"We've put ourselves back in the top six with this victory, which no one gave us a hope in hell of achieving," he said. "It's up to us to use this as a way of galvanising ourselves for the rest of the season.

"To come from behind against Linfield at The Oval on Boxing Day and win is fantastic - it's something we haven't managed since 2011. I'm really proud of the players.

"The fans went home happy, they now have the Big Two bragging rights."

Belfast Telegraph

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