Belfast Telegraph

Steven Beacom: Suggestions that David Healy should be on his way out of Linfield are way off the mark

Queen's Uni 2 Linfield 1

Linfield manager David Healy during the game at the Dub. Photo Laura Davison/Pacemaker Press
Linfield manager David Healy during the game at the Dub. Photo Laura Davison/Pacemaker Press
Party time: Celebrations all round as Marc McKenna beams with delight after opening the scoring
Queen's boss Peter Thompson reacts at the final whistle
Battle stations: Man of the match Ronan Young challenges Linfield skipper Jamie Mulgrew
Jonah Mitchell celebrates converting his penalty

By Steven Beacom

Normally a 2:1 in an examination at Queen's would be greeted with satisfaction. For Linfield, that result at the Dub was received with horror.

The fifth round Irish Cup shocker was arguably the biggest upset the Blues have been involved in since the defeat to then B division Carrick Rangers in the 1976 final.

Roy Coyle, manager of Linfield that day, still winces at the memory of it. Current boss David Healy now knows how he feels. Northern Ireland's record goalscorer stated after the tie on Saturday that the 2-1 loss would haunt him forever.

The weekend was painful for Northern Ireland's greatest goalscorer and all those connected with the club.

Post-match, board members and fans were fuming as they tried to come to terms with having watched an abject display from a largely full strength side, including new signing Ethan Boyle.

All over the pitch, Linfield weren't good enough - though the suggestion from some that Healy should be on his way out was way, way off the mark.

Healy has brought much success to Linfield followers since taking charge at Windsor Park, winning two league titles and every domestic cup competition plus there was the exhilarating Europa League run earlier this season bringing the Blues vast sums of money and global attention.

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One desperate defeat should not undermine all that but it ought to be seen as a wake up call for the players who have been average of late and slept through long periods of the match against a determined, fiercely committed Queen's side who, as the game wore on, grew in confidence that they could deliver the result of the season.

Even before the Championship club took the lead on 39 minutes, the warning signs had been there.

Clearly not heeded, Marc McKenna struck a fine opener from the edge of the box after Bastien Hery had been caught dithering on the ball.

The Blues reacted by hitting the bar through Jamie Mulgrew and Mark Stafford before substitute Shayne Lavery equalised on the hour.

Rather than kick on from there, the visitors faded, faltered and flattered to deceive. Queen's did anything but.

In the closing stages, defensively they got stronger, in midfield they fought like tigers and up front substitute Brendan Glackin pressurised Stafford into giving away a penalty for handball. Cool as you like, Jonah Mitchell, son of former Blues favourite Philip, stepped up to drive the spot-kick into the net with 15 minutes on the clock.

There was no way back this time for the Blues.

Jimmy Callacher headed in only to be disappointed by an offside flag and, when the final whistle blew shortly after, the unexpected and unbridled celebrations from the Queen's management, players, officials and supporters were a joy to behold. The magic of the Cup wafted around Upper Malone.

It could return on February 1 with Queen's set to host Glentoran in what promises to be a compelling sixth round clash.

New Chancellor of the University Hillary Clinton should be booking her flights for a trip to Belfast early next month to support her boys!

Queen's boss Thompson joked: "I'm raging Hillary was given that job. After this win, I may have had a shout!"

In more serious tone, he added: "Our game plan wasn't anything revolutionary. We went to Windsor to watch the Blues last Wednesday and Institute didn't lay a glove on them and it was a bit like a training game for Linfield.

"That was a watershed moment because, after watching them, I was determined that we would give it a go for ourselves and our supporters. It was a risk and it could have gone against us but the reward was there for us too if it went well.

"Tactics and game plans are one thing of course, it is up to the players to go out on the pitch and deliver and all of them were immense - the whole team shone.

"People questioned why we didn't take the game to Windsor Park but we proved why with the performance and result. To have an occasion like this on our home ground was very special indeed.

"Now we can look forward to another big game in the sixth round against another outstanding team. We will go in with the same positive attitude and aim for another fantastic result."

Thompson was full of praise for his heroic players.

It was a brilliant team effort but some individuals stood out. Ronan Young at left back was exceptional. Right back Joshua Corry the same. Ben Mulgrew, brother of Linfield skipper Jamie, battled bravely and, in attack, goalscorers Mitchell and McKenna, along with Matthew Hughes, caused the Blues problems they could not solve.

"It is a proud day for everyone connected with the football club at Queen's," added a jubilant Thompson.

"For me, Linfield are the best team in the land and we deserved to beat them which says everything about how we performed."

QUEEN'S: Brown, Corry, Young, McManus, Robinson, Bonnes (Calvert, 79 mins), Mitchell, Mulgrew, O'Hare (Glackin, 50 mins), McKenna (McIlroy, 68 mins), Hughes. Unused subs: Gawne, Drylie, Traynor, Magee.

LINFIELD: Ferguson, Stafford (Shevlin, 78 mins), Callacher, Waterworth, Cooper, Millar, Clarke, Kearns (Lavery, 58 mins), Hery (Stewart, 78 mins), Mulgrew, Boyle. Unused subs: Moore, Larkin, Mitchell, Casement.

Referee: Tony Clarke (Newtownabbey)

Man of the match: Ronan Young

Match rating: 7/10

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