Belfast Telegraph

Healy rallies Blues for strong end to a testing campaign

By Graham Luney

David Healy believes Linfield have what it takes to finish the season with a flourish.

The Blues boss was speaking after his side slowly but surely continued to build momentum with a 3-1 league victory at Warrenpoint making it four games without defeat.

Given Linfield's extraordinary treble winning feat last term, that may not sound like much of a run of form but Healy is wearing a more contented look than he has for most of what has been an inconsistent campaign.

The champions are up to fourth in the table and have an Irish Cup quarter-final at home to Cliftonville to look forward to after seeing off Newry City at Windsor Park at the weekend.

At Warrenpoint on Tuesday night, Matthew Tipton's men took the lead but Linfield bounce back with goals from defenders Jimmy Callacher and Mark Haughey either side of Martin Murray's own goal.

With a home match against Dungannon Swifts on Saturday, Healy wants to maintain the momentum.

"Our aim now is to finish the season as strongly as we can," said Northern Ireland's record goalscorer. "The Irish Cup is huge for us, which is why it was so important for us to win against Newry. I knew we would need to improve on that performance to win at Warrenpoint and I think we did that. If we continue improving, who knows what we can achieve because we are a good side.

"It hasn't been the easiest of seasons but I believe we can move forward and make the club proud again. We haven't done that this season but hopefully now we can push on.

"There is nobody as disappointed as myself and the players at where we are in the table but all we can do now is build momentum, gain confidence, get positive results and we will see where it takes us.

"Beating Warrenpoint was a good result for us because they are a threat. I know they have lost their most attacking assets in Darren and Stephen Murray but they still came at us and credit to them. Overall though, we certainly deserved to win the game and I feel it's the best we have played in the last few weeks. The quality of the pitch helped that.

"For Saturday against Dungannon at Windsor, they will put out a team that wants to play and play and they have good players, including some ex-Linfield players, aiming to prove a point. It will be a tough game and we will be mentally and physically prepared for it."

On Callacher, who scored his first goal of the season in midweek, Healy added: "He has had it tough this season so it was really pleasing for him to get on the scoresheet. Last season Jimmy put his body on the line and probably too much because he came in in pre-season and struggled a little and it took him a bit of time to get up to speed.

"But Jimmy is back in the team and with the set plays coming in from Niall Quinn and Kirk Millar, you expect players like Jimmy, Mark Haughey and Mark Stafford to score goals."

Healy also paid tribute to skipper Jamie Mulgrew who made his 500th Linfield appearance in the 3-1 win. "He's an incredible Linfield player and a fantastic captain. To play 500 games for a big club like ours is a superb achievement and I'm sure Jamie will continue delivering for us," said Healy.

• KIRK Millar's second strike against Glebe Rangers in the Fifth Round of the Irish Cup has been named January Goal of the Month by NIFWA. Millar completed the scoring at Windsor Park with a wonderful right-footed effort that curled into the top corner from just outside the box.

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