Linfield manager David Healy 'dejected' as Larne now 'in complete control' of Premiership title race

Dejected Linfield players at full time. PIC: Andrew McCarroll/ Pacemaker PressDejected Linfield players at full time. PIC: Andrew McCarroll/ Pacemaker Press
Dejected Linfield players at full time. PIC: Andrew McCarroll/ Pacemaker Press
While David Healy admits Coleraine’s late equaliser left him and Linfield feeling “dejected”, the Blues chief says it’s his job to pick the players up despite believing Larne are in “complete control” of the Premiership title race after a dramatic evening.

The title race picture totally changed within seconds as Matthew Shevlin’s 97th minute header combined with Johnny Russell’s injury time own goal, which handed Larne a 2-1 victory over Glentoran, means the Inver Reds are now three points ahead at the summit prior to Monday’s trip to Windsor Park.

A point in Belfast will be enough for Tiernan Lynch’s side to successfully retain the Gibson Cup crown and, due to Larne’s goal difference being 17 superior than Linfield’s, even defeat would still leave matters in their own hands heading into the final match of the season if required.

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Despite feeling as if “something has slipped away from you”, Healy will look to lift his players and staff for the final weeks of the season with two league matches and an Irish Cup final still to come.

"As dejected as I am, and everyone is feeling that because that's what it is, but we've always been a positive staff,” Healy told BBC Sport NI. “So it's my job, my staff's job to pick each other up, to pick the players up and make sure we are ready to go again.

"All credit to Larne by the way. The are a magnificent team and they have been brilliant this year. They are in complete control now of their own destiny.

"As disappointed as we feel now, everybody feels as if something has slipped away from you, but I've been here before.

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"I've been in situations, I've been successful, I've been unsuccessful in different years, so it's down to me and my managerial skills and prowess and whatever else it is."

With Shevlin’s strike coming in the dying seconds of the seven additional minutes, Healy questioned the length of time added on – but wasn’t using it as an excuse for dropping points.

"I was one of the managers that pushed for the extra minutes earlier in the season," he added. "Other managers were in a similar situation.

"When you are winning the game, you want less. When you are drawing or pushing to try and win the game, you want more. It's not sour grapes in any way but I just didn't feel as if there were seven minutes tonight.

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"We were at Seaview the other night and there was four when we were drawing in the last minute (before winning). Listen, it is what it is, first and foremost we didn't defend properly and we got done."

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