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Linfield boss Healy salutes his class acts after Irish League title glory

 

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Victorious Irish League manager David Healy

Victorious Irish League manager David Healy

Victorious Irish League manager David Healy

Linfield manager David Healy has spoken about how he bounced back from the lowest point of his career to become a champion again.

In an interview with Sunday Life Sport, Healy also opened up about his fears that the Blues would be denied title glory off the pitch, frustrations relating to what he described as "ludicrous" proposals being put forward to conclude the 2019/2020 season and his immense pride in his victorious players and staff.

On Friday, the Blues were crowned title winners for the third time in four years under Healy after an independent panel decided on a points-per-game method to determine the final Premiership table.

All this after Linfield and Healy were rocked when they were dumped out of the Irish Cup by Queen's University in one of the most embarrassing defeats in their history.

Healy was under serious pressure after that January humiliation but has ended the season in triumph.

"Losing to Queen's was a crushing blow and the lowest I had felt in my career," said Northern Ireland's record goalscorer.

"I drove home that day with my son in the car and didn't even realise what way we had gone home.

"I was in auto-pilot and there were all sorts of awful thoughts going through my mind about the game, the result and the possible domino effect with supporters who would have doubts about us again.

"As the manager, it was up to me to pick the club, players and staff up. I think I am a strong, resilient person and I needed to be then.

"Do I get down and beat myself up? Absolutely and I did after the Queen's loss, but it is important that you bounce back and believe in the people around you, like the staff and the players and, more importantly, believe in yourself.

"A big game for us in the season was our next game after Queen's. We played at Cliftonville and they were up around the top of the table and we beat them 2-1.

"As members of staff and players, we sat down after the Queen's game and were honest with each other.

"We could have felt sorry for ourselves going into the Cliftonville game, but we showed character and kicked on after that win at Solitude.

"As far as I am concerned, we are deserved Champions."

On the last three months - which have been dominated by rows, claims and counter claims - Healy declared: "I wanted us to finish the season on the pitch, but when it became apparent that would not happen, I was worried that we wouldn't be given what we deserved.

"If you are not in control, you always worry what outcome might be thrust upon you.

"There were some ludicrous ideas being thrown about by some people in Irish League circles over the last few months.

"I know clubs have to look after themselves, but I thought a lot of distasteful things went on and were said.

"There have even been suggestions about us somehow wanting Institute being relegated.

"Linfield did not want anyone relegated from the League and we will not be taking any responsibility for Institute being relegated.

"We feel justified in what we have done throughout a difficult process.

"The Chairman and the Board have worked hard and we stayed strong, kept our counsel and kept our distance from certain things.

"I always felt if it came down to sporting merit and sporting integrity, Linfield would be Champions, which is what happened.

"We have been dignified from day one and dignified in responding to some of the ludicrous proposals put out there, especially when some clubs thought they would be getting European money that wasn't rightfully theirs.

"I am immensely proud of our players and staff and our club and not just for what they did on the field this season.

"I thanked them in a group message for their dedication and their professionalism in keeping quiet over the last number of months, which was challenging.

"They have been a credit to me as their manager and a credit to the club.

"We did all our talking on the pitch.

"Coleraine pushed us hard and I congratulate Oran (Kearney) and his team for this season and now we look forward to next season."

Belfast Telegraph