Linfield’s David Healy calls for Irish Cup ‘reaction’ to league loss

Linfield boss David Healy is backing his players to set aside Saturday’s league setback and ‘sharpen the focus’ for tonight’s Irish Cup semi-final.

Tuesday, 18th May 2021, 1:00 pm

The weekend home loss to Larne stopped Linfield from securing a fourth Premiership title crown in five seasons under Healy.

The Blues boss now wants his squad to draw on Saturday’s disappointment and defeat Ballymena United at Mourneview Park on Irish Cup semi-final day to keep on track dreams of a domestic trophy double.

Linfield’s top-of-the-table test next Tuesday from a trip to Coleraine offers another opportunity to wrap up the league in advance of closing out the demanding Premiership campaign at Cliftonville on May 29.

Linfield manager David Healy. Pic by Pacemaker.

However, this week’s Irish Cup commitment takes centre-stage as Linfield tackle Ballymena tonight with the target of returning to Lurgan to face either Larne or Crusaders on Friday in the showpiece knockout final.

“It’s always important that you get a reaction...come Tuesday the opportunity is there to go and play in a cup final,” said Healy after the Larne defeat. “The players should be hungry, they should be enthusiastic and they should be excited now about the challenge.

“We’ve been here before and if you can’t get excited for semi-finals and the possibility of a final and basically a league decider against Coleraine next Tuesday...it’s why we’re here.

“But if the players cannot sharpen or raise the standard of today they might as well not be playing in a semi-final.

“They should not need me going in ranting and raving and giving them too much information.

“I was disappointed with the late goal conceded (on Saturday) as I felt we had enough experience on the pitch to deal with the situation.

“But we’ve got ourselves the opportunity to go and finish it off.

“I know Ballymena have altered their formation a little and gone back to a back three that got them quite a bit of joy and success the last couple of years.

“But no matter what formation, Ballymena are hungry, athletic and have players missing from earlier now back.

“We’ve played Ballymena numerous times - David Jeffrey will be the same I’m sure with his players...they know what to expect from us, we know what to expect from Ballymena.

“It’s a tough challenge physically and mentally. Regroup, refocus and deliver.”

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