Mark Haughey programme article

Posted : 21st February 2020

Tonight Linfield take on Crusaders in an important League fixture in the title race. It was just two months ago that the Crues last visited Windsor Park when the spoils were shared in a 1-1 draw. That day saw the return of defender Mark Haughey following a lengthy spell on the sidelines.

The big defender had been out for 19 months, but was brought on as a half time substitute and ended up going on to pick up the ‘Man of the Match’ award. This week ‘Look at Linfield’ has been catching up with the Newry native who says it was a relief more than anything to get back out on the pitch.

“It was just a feeling of relief more than anything to get back on to the pitch after such a long time out. It was probably the best way to make an appearance back, being told at half time and not having time to over think it, but to just go out and help the team get a result in the second half.

“I never expected to be out for the length of time I was, so that for me was mentally tough but I just had to keep focused and get back playing. The club and the medical team have been fantastic with me during my injury time and now going forward, it's a case of managing it to make sure I keep playing.”

The 29 year-old certainly hasn’t lost his goalscoring touch and is still such a threat at set-pieces, with two goals in seven appearances since his return. Haughey says the buzz of getting on the scoresheet is one reason he was eager to get back involved as soon as possible.

“It was another fantastic relief to score against Ballymena last week and to score against Institute as well before that. That feeling and to win just reminds me of why I wanted to get back playing so much.

“The team’s success last season and early this season is why I wanted to overcome the injury even more so. The boys were superb last year in winning the League Cup and the League, to then almost qualifying for the Europa League group stages. It just highlighted and confirmed my love with playing football and it made me more determined to get back and to win more trophies with Linfield.”

The Blues go into tonight’s game six points ahead of Glentoran who sit in second, seven points ahead of Coleraine and eight points ahead of Cliftonville and Crusaders who both have a game in hand. The champions could create a bit of breathing space over Crusaders at least, if we win tonight, and Haughey says the Blues are coming into the game in good form, after a comfortable 4-1 win at Ballymena last week.

“The team performance last week against Ballymena was exactly what was needed. At this stage of the season it is just about the three points and although we have been achieving that in the last number of games, to win and play the way we did against Ballymena just helps boost confidence.

“The next 9 games are all cup finals and the lads are well aware of it. Tonight's game against Crusaders is massive and we all know what to expect from them and how they play. We know that we need to now go on a run of winning games and grinding out as many three points as we can from now to the end of the season, but a lot of the players have had this experience before in winning the title previously and hopefully, that’ll hold us in good stead.”

It really is great to see the big man back and in such good form. Best wishes to Mark and the team for tonight’s very important game in the race for the Gibson Cup.
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