Sean O’Neill admits creating a little piece of history has filled Crusaders’ players with pride.
The Crues clinched the Danske Bank Premiership title for a sixth time on Tuesday night, but it was the first time the Seaview club had won back-to-back Gibson Cups in their 118-year history.
On Saturday Stephen Baxter’s side will get to lift the coveted trophy once again following their game with Coleraine at Seaview.
“This title definitely means more to me than last year’s,” goalkeeper O’Neill said.
“I know the players are full of pride that we were able to retain the title for the first time in the club’s history.
“The first one meant a lot and last year’s championship was the club’s first league title in 18 years, but this one is better, simply because it is always tougher defending it. We were reigning champions and a scalp to the other 11 clubs in the Danske Bank Premiership.
“It was great to get across the line and prove we are the best team in Northern Ireland. I think we have proven that over the past nine months. It’s a fact and we’re delighted.”
O’Neill added: “We’ve received criticism and at times it hurt us, but at the same time it spurred us on. It made us more determined to prove people wrong.
“We showed all year what this team is made of. People claim we don’t play football, but I can assure you when we played those other teams who were supposedly playing all the football, they kicked the ball further than us.”