Belfast Telegraph

Comrades boss Adams is on a mission to topple old hero Healy

 

By Steven Beacom

Ballyclare Comrades manager Clifford Adams used to roar David Healy on at Windsor Park. Tonight he will be out to shock Northern Ireland's greatest goalscorer when Linfield visit Dixon Park in the County Antrim Shield.

The Blues are set to rest a few top names, but Healy will still demand that his team make it into the quarter-finals of a competition that gave him his first trophy as manager last season.

Adams will relish the challenge. For the former Wakehurst and Ballymena United reserves boss this is his biggest match in charge of the Comrades since being appointed in March.

While knowing Bluefin Sport Championship outfit Ballyclare are huge underdogs, he is hoping that his players will rise to the occasion in front of what promises to be a sizeable crowd.

"We are really looking forward to it. For a club like ourselves it is a great draw and we hope that Linfield bring a lot of supporters with them. Games like this are important to a club like Ballyclare financially," said Adams.

"Ballyclare has a Linfield supporters club in it so there is massive interest. It's great coming up against Linfield and David."

Like every Northern Ireland fan through the 2000s, Adams revered Healy, who scored so many unforgettable goals for his country. One stunning effort that always sticks in the Ballyclare manager's mind dates back 17 years ago.

"I used to go and watch David when he was scoring all those goals for Northern Ireland," recalled Adams. "I remember the first ever international game I watched was when he scored that brilliant goal against Peter Schmeichel at Windsor Park when Northern Ireland played Denmark.

"He was a great player and he is proving himself to be an excellent manager. He is someone years ago who everyone looked up to because of what he did as a player for Northern Ireland and it's nice to be facing him.

"More importantly it's great for the club and great for the players to be able to take on the Linfield team. For me, Linfield are one of, if not the best team in Northern Ireland at the moment and it will be a really good test for our players."

Ballyclare started this season on fire, winning their first three league games. Then came draws against Newry and Larne before they suffered their first defeat of the campaign on Saturday, going down 3-0 at home to PSNI.

You can't help wondering if some of the players had tonight's encounter on their minds.

The Comrades, in second place, have 11 points from six Bluefin Sport Championship matches. They are two points behind leaders Knockbreda and one ahead of pre-season promotion favourites Portadown.

"We finished third last year and our aim is to do better than last season," said Adams. "You never enter a race to come second. I know Portadown would have been considered massive favourites in the Championship but our aim is to win the league."

Healy has the same ambition and, as holders, he'll want to go all the way in the Shield.

This fixture begins a run of six matches on the road in various competitions for the Blues, the second of which is on Friday night at Warrenpoint Town in the Danske Bank Premiership.

"The Shield is a competition we've traditionally done well in," said Healy. "We'll make changes but will still have a good side."

Belfast Telegraph

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