Belfast Telegraph

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Linfield boss delight as Roy Carroll agrees new deal with club

By Alex Mills

Roy Carroll has handed Linfield a timely boost at a crucial stage of the season by agreeing a new deal with the club. The Northern Ireland goalkeeper has been in sensational form for the Blues and last month he told the Belfast Telegraph he still had the appetite to play on next season even though he turns 40 in September.

It also emerged last night that Carroll has made the shortlist for the prestigious Ulster Footballer of the Year prize, hosted by the Castlereagh Glentoran Supporters’ Club.

Blues boss David Healy expressed his delight after fans’ favourite Carroll extended his stay at Windsor Park.

“Roy has enjoyed an exceptional season with us and I’m very keen to have him on board for another year,” Healy said.

“I’ve known Roy a long time and I know the qualities he brings to the team, on and off the pitch. He’s an inspirational leader who sets the right example to all around him.

“Everyone in our changing room looks up to him as a fantastic role model and his vast experience at the very highest level will be of immense benefit to everyone at the club, our young goalkeepers in particular.

“He is the complete professional who sets the highest standards for himself and for others.

“He has made a fantastic contribution to our impressive defensive record this season and he keeps himself in great shape and is keen to assist the ongoing development of our promising squad through the course of next season.

“His performances in goal for us have been exceptional, none more so than his crucial late match winning saves in our two most recent games against Dungannon Swifts and Crusaders.

“I’m delighted to get this contract extension finalised now, as it leaves Roy free to be fully focused on his single-minded aim of helping the club achieve as much success as we possibly can in our crucial final five games of the current season.

“I know this news will be warmly welcomed by our supporters and it will definitely serve as a massive boost and lift to everyone ahead of what will be a massive game for us at Ballymena (tomorrow).”

Meanwhile, Ballymena United striker Johnny McMurray believes his team can become party poopers as the race for the Danske Bank Premiership title reaches a climax.

The Sky Blues entertain Linfield at the Warden Street Showgrounds tomorrow before they roll out the welcome mat for Crusaders next week. Only one point separates the two Belfast sides at the top of the table.

“It would be fair to say it’s a title decider,” said McMurray.

“Every game Linfield and Crusaders are involved in from now until the end of the season is a title decider. But we can spoil their party, there is no doubt about that.”

David Jeffrey’s boys suffered a heavy defeat at Glenavon last week and McMurray insists they now have something to prove, saying: “We were poor, but how we respond is what really matters. The boss had a few words with us afterwards. We’ve had a great season. We have the League Cup sitting in the boardroom and we finished in the top six for the first time ever.

“We’ve talked about reaching Europe, which would put the icing on the cake for us — not only for the team but for the club because it’s financially lucrative.

“It would also give the boss the funds needed to strengthen the squad. It looks as though Coleraine are going to nail down third place in the table. We are 11 points behind them — it’s a big ask, so we’ll be in the play-offs.

“But we still want to finish as high up the table as we possibly can, so the remaining four games are all crucial — they are fixtures that we want to win.”

• Linfield striker Paul Smyth has been named Bank of Ireland Ulster Young Footballer of the Year, hosted by the Castlereagh Glentoran Supporters’ Club.

The 19-year-old helped the Blues win the County Antrim Shield and now the club is chasing a treble after reaching the Tennent’s Irish Cup Final and moving a point behind Crusaders in the title race.

Nominated for the prestigious Bank of Ireland Ulster Player of the Year prize are Linfield duo Roy Carroll and Jamie Mulgrew along with Crusaders defender Howard Beverland.

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