'I understand Linfield fans' anger': Humiliated David Healy accepts backlash following shock Irish Cup exit
Linfield manager David Healy has declared that he and his team must be stronger and better for the rest of the season after suffering an "embarrassing and humiliating" Irish Cup upset to Queen's University on the Students' home patch at The Dub.
Healy revealed that Saturday's 2-1 fifth-round defeat to the Championship side was the lowest point of his career and would haunt him forever.
It was the latest twist in a roller coaster season for the champions, whose thrilling Europa League run at the start of the campaign captured the imagination of the nation and £1.3m in prize money for the club. Since then, the Blues have been knocked out of all three domestic cup competitions and been inconsistent in the title race.
The league is all they have left to play for with a huge game in prospect next Monday away to table-topping Cliftonville, who are three points clear of Healy's side though Linfield have a match in hand.
Linfield fans were fuming with the loss to Queen's and will be seeking a major response from the team at Solitude.
"There was anger from our supporters after the game on Saturday and I understand that. I'm the manager and have to take the backlash and be stronger for the experience and better for it," said Healy.
"The players, my staff and myself need to be better and the Cliftonville match gives us a chance to bounce back in a big game."
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Quizzed on his side’s poor display against Queen’s, Healy said: “We didn’t perform. It’s one where I’m shocked at the level of performance.
“We are out of the Irish Cup which I’m hugely disappointed about. I’m embarrassed, humiliated and humbled. The players are also disappointed and rightly so.
“If given the opportunity in the Irish Cup again, the boys need to be better.
“It’s unforgivable. My pride has taken a huge battering. I know the players have taken a huge battering. I’ve experienced many highs and many lows in the game but this is the lowest I have felt at any stage in football and in life. That defeat will haunt me for the rest of my days.
“We lost the game because we weren’t good enough in all areas. Credit to Queen’s. They deserved their win.”
On the hour mark, substitute Shayne Lavery equalised Marc McKenna’s first half strike but it was Queen’s who surprisingly went on to claim the winner through Jonah Mitchell’s superbly taken penalty, leading to a long inquest in the Linfield dressing room after the match.
“I thought we got a reaction after half-time and got ourselves back into it but it was really disappointing when we drew level that we didn’t kick on,” said Healy.
“After the game, we had a discussion in the dressing room. I don’t think there was any need to shout and fall out.
“We had a discussion about where we’d been and where we are and where we want to get to.
“Now we need to work hard and make sure we improve ahead of our next game.”