Belfast Telegraph

It’s another champion moment for Linfield

By Graham Luney

Lisburn Distillery 0 Linfield 4: The title celebrations were a little flat at Ballyskeagh yesterday.

Perhaps it was because Linfield fans already knew the job had been done or perhaps it was because Blues fans are beginning to take Gibson Cup triumphs for granted — they have been spoilt when it comes to silverware.

But there was no disputing the relief and joy in the away dressing room at the end of a league campaign that didn’t always go according to plan.

Linfield proved they are the best team in the league and only five defeats in 37 matches is a phenomenal achievement, with the icing on the championship cake served up in yesterday’s 4-0 victory over the Whites.

The season may be drifting to a thrilling climax with a mouth-watering Irish Cup final to come between the champions and runner-up Crusaders next Saturday, but these are still bitter-sweet times for inspirational defender William Murphy.

Murphy has been with boss David Jeffrey every step on the road to success and he will soon get his hands on an eighth championship medal but he is suspended for the Irish Cup decider.

It’s been a roller-coaster ride for the 37-year-old — he was transfer listed after a breach of discipline in January — but his contribution to the club’s 50th title in their 125th anniversary year has been immense.

“There’s always pressure at Linfield and they are a club that breeds success,” said Murphy. “The club demands success and the players get their rewards that way.

“You win trophies, you win contracts and the players David (Jeffrey) has brought to the club over the last 14 years have enjoyed great success.”

Murphy, who has been at Linfield since September, 1997, is now hoping he has done enough to earn a new contract at Windsor Park — he’s not ready to follow in the footsteps of Noel Bailie yet.

“There have been no talks,” he added. “My last contracts have been on a rolling 12 months deal and usually negotiations start at the end of the season. All I do is try my best every time I pull the shirt on and hopefully it’s enough for the club to give me a new deal.

“I got a wake-up call this season and I had to work hard — things don’t come easy in life. David has said to everyone, not just me, that when you go away from Linfield you will finally realise how good it is here.

“I’ve seen that side of the coin as I started at Carrick Rangers and then went to Ards in the Premiership which was like night and day. Now I’m at the most thorough and professional club in the country, with great people running the club and great players as well.”

Michael Carvill’s fifth goal of the season in the 30th minute broke the deadlock, the winger heading in from close range after a bizarre game of head tennis in the penalty area.

Carvill was denied a second goal in the 54th minute by keeper Billy Brennan while Murphy’s drive struck Peter Thompson and flew over the crossbar.

On 62 minutes the Blues doubled their lead. Pat McShane tripped Robert Garrett and Thompson did the rest from the penalty spot.

Two minutes later it was 3-0, Carvill keeping a cool head to outfox Brennan after clever play from Chris Casement and Murphy.

Mark McAllister came to the party in the 73rd minute, producing a sublime finish from 15 yards.

There was even time for Noel Bailie to replace Steven Douglas in the 79th minute while Glenn Ferguson left the action a minute later.

The final few cherished moments of legends leaving the stage. Two men who know that history is written by winners.

LISBURN DISTILLERY: Brennan, McShane, Curran (Hunter 45), Kilmartin, Ferguson (Hughes 80), Cooling (Devlin 60), Patton, Simpson, Davidson, Liggett, Callaghan. Subs not used: Matthews, Cushley.

LINFIELD: Blayney, Douglas (Bailie 79), Murphy, Lowry, Thompson, Carvill (Tomelty 75), Burns, Garrett, Ervin, McAllister, Casement (Mulgrew 67). Subs not used: BJ Burns, Munster.

Referee: Arnold Hunter (Maguiresbridge).

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