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By Colin Millar

Keep the blue, white and red ribbons on the Gibson Cup, the famous old trophy is staying at Windsor Park for another 12 months at least.

Jamie Mulgrew’s fine individual, last-minute effort against Portadown not only clinched Linfield their record 51st league title, but also epitomised all the qualities of Linfield.

Saturday’s match looked all set to be a somewhat disappointing anti-climax for the home fans. Due to Coleraine defeating Cliftonville the previous evening, the Blues needed victory to secure the trophy with four games still to play.

However, the match was close and neither side managed to create a clear-cut opportunity until Philip Lowry gave the Blues the lead halfway through the second half.

With five minutes left on the clock, Matthew Tipton gathered the ball deep inside Linfield’s half before slotting Richard Leckey in on goal and the frontman made no mistake. The champagne would have to be put on ice, or so it seemed.

With the clock ticking into injury time, Jamie Mulgrew forced the Ports’ Gary Breen to lose his footing, allowing Mulgrew to find himself straight through on goal. He rounded the onrushing goalkeeper Tuda Murphy before firing the ball past the two Portadown defenders on the line and into the net. Cue pandemonium.

Mulgrew’s determination and work ethic perfectly embodied the side’s never-say-die mentality which has been so crucial in securing Linfield’s third title in a row, and sixth in seven seasons.

The league has been tied up which means that the club’s remaining fixtures – Cliftonville and Coleraine at home, Crusaders away before finishing at home to Glentoran – will be largely academic. The title will be officially lifted on the last day of the season against Glentoran at Windsor Park.

The Irish Cup saga over who Linfield will meet in the semi-final has finally come to an end, when it was announced last week that it would indeed be Newry City that the Blues would have to face.

The semi-final tie against the Championship 1 club will take place this coming Saturday at The Oval with a 3pm kick off. The game is an all-ticket affair. The winners will face Crusaders in the final at the start of next month.

Centre half David Armstrong joined the list of Linfield players to extend their contracts with the club. The former Hearts youth player has signed a new two-year deal which will take him up to the summer of 2014, joining the likes of Michael Gault, Michael Carvill and Brian McCaul who have already recently lengthened their deals.

It has also been revealed that highly rated midfielder Aaron Burns was also offered a new two-year deal but he is deliberating over his future, with a number of cross-channel clubs rumoured to be interested.

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