Belfast Telegraph

Healy final joy but admits Linfield must be more consistent

By Stuart McKinley

Linfield boss David Healy wants to see the fear factor come back to Windsor Park after leading the Blues to the first final of his managerial career.

Goals from Niall Quinn and Mark Stafford - and a superb display by Paul Smyth - helped to beat Carrick Rangers 2-0 at Windsor Park to book a meeting with Ballymena United in the County Antrim Shield decider on Tuesday, January 12.

After being under the microscope since day one in the job two months ago, the result meant more than the performance to Healy, but he wants it to be the catalyst for a revival that will shoot the Blues right into the Danske Bank Premiership title race after four straight defeats in November derailed their bid.

"If we had played poorly and won the game that's all that would have mattered - it was all about getting to the final," said Healy, who had been under pressure in recent weeks.

"I thought our performance was good, considering we managed the situation. We managed the way things are. Everyone has their opinion and it's up to the players now to say 'this is what we're all about'.

"It can't be one game, it can't be two games. It's got to be a consistent level every game, especially at home because everyone loves playing at Windsor. Teams are sensing that it is a good time to play Linfield and hopefully we can start putting a bit of fear back into teams and start delivering results."

Healy is now relishing meeting his former Northern Ireland international colleague Glenn Ferguson in the decider and he knows the expectation will be for Linfield to win his first final as a manager.

“I’m absolutely delighted. That was our aim coming in, to win trophies. You need to win everything here because that is the demand that is put on you. It’s the demand that I put on myself,” he said.

“It’s a final to look forward to and we have to build on it and try to take it through into the New Year.”

Carrick Rangers manager Gary Haveron was disappointed with his team’s defending, but is already looking ahead to Saturday’s trip to Ballinamallard United, which they were forced to switch because their Taylors Avenue pitch is unplayable.

“Our defensive frailties were there to be seen,” said Haveron.

“Thank goodness I have Brian Neeson in goals. He saved the penalty and I was relieved that he wasn’t sent off when he conceded it because Ballinamallard United on Saturday is a bigger game for us.”

Glenavon have tied down two more key members of their first-team squad to long-term contracts.

Just days after Daniel Kearns, Andrew Kilmartin and Mark Sykes signed deals that will run to the summers of 2016, 2017 and 2018 respectively, Andy Hall and Conor Dillon have agreed to extend their stay at Mourneview.

Dillion had 18 months remaining on his existing contract and has extended that by a further year. Hall has signed a two-year extension, meaning both players are now tied to the club until 2018.

FORMER Liverpool and England star John Barnes will be the star guest at the Ramada Hotel, Shaws Bridge, this evening.

Billed as an ‘Epic Evening’ Barnes will be joined by well known comedian and football personality impersonator Darren Farley. The event gets under way at 8pm, with a pre-event meet and greet beginning at 6pm.

Tickets, priced at £25, or £35 for the meet and greet, are available at:

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