IRISH LEAGUE: Healy hopes Shield prize is the first of many as Linfield boss

Linfield's players celebrate County Antrim Shield victory. 
Photograph by Presseye/Matt Mackey
Linfield's players celebrate County Antrim Shield victory. Photograph by Presseye/Matt Mackey

David Healy is hoping he will look back on last night as the most significant night of his managerial career.

Northern Ireland’s record goal-scorer collected his first trophy as Linfield manager with the 3-1 County Antrim Shield final win over 10-man Crusaders.

Celebration time for David Healy (second left) at the County Antrim Shield final. Pic by PressEye Ltd.

Celebration time for David Healy (second left) at the County Antrim Shield final. Pic by PressEye Ltd.

Now he wants nights like those to again become par for the course round Windsor way.

“People will say this is the least important trophy but I hope it will be the most important one because it gives my players the belief that they can go and match Crusaders,” he said.

“I hope in years to come, for the club, it is more. This is a collective thing and I hope it means more to the club.

“(The County Antrim Shield) was David Jeffrey’s first trophy, it was Roy Coyle’s first trophy and if you’re anywhere near some of the success that those guys have, you’ll do alright.”

It's a celebration. Linfield jubilant after win over Crusaders. Photograph by Presseye/Matt Mackey

It's a celebration. Linfield jubilant after win over Crusaders. Photograph by Presseye/Matt Mackey

The result means it’s first blood to Linfield in the tussle for titles. Now the Blues boss is wondering if it can fire his players to reel in league leading Crusaders and oust Stephen Baxter’s side in the Irish Cup quarter-final.

“We needed to prove to ourselves that we’re capable and we did that,” he said. “Take any decisions out of it and we were the better team.

“We went in to the finals last year and people were saying we hadn’t got over the line in a few years. I remember hurting after the County Antrim Shield defeat and the same after the Irish Cup final.

“Hopefully the players have that extra special feeling now and they want to go on and win things. A few of our players seemed a bit unsure how to celebrate because we haven’t done it for a while.

Linfield's Cameron Stewart celebartes after heading the Blues into a 1-0 lead in Tuesday night's 
Toals County Antrim Shield final at the Showgrounds in Ballymena. (
Photograph by Presseye/Stephen Hamilton

Linfield's Cameron Stewart celebartes after heading the Blues into a 1-0 lead in Tuesday night's Toals County Antrim Shield final at the Showgrounds in Ballymena. ( Photograph by Presseye/Stephen Hamilton

“Hopefully it’s the first of many.”

Linfield's Mark Stafford celebartes after he pokes home at the back post to make it 2-0. 
Photograph by Presseye/Stephen Hamilton

Linfield's Mark Stafford celebartes after he pokes home at the back post to make it 2-0. Photograph by Presseye/Stephen Hamilton

Linfield's Mark Stafford puts Linfield 2-0 up. Photograph by Presseye/Stephen Hamilton

Linfield's Mark Stafford puts Linfield 2-0 up. Photograph by Presseye/Stephen Hamilton

Crusaders' Jordan Owens celebrates after heading home against Linfield. 
Photograph by Presseye/Stephen Hamilton

Crusaders' Jordan Owens celebrates after heading home against Linfield. Photograph by Presseye/Stephen Hamilton