Belfast Telegraph

Declan O’Hara aims to take Blues down a peg

By Mark McIntosh

Two years ago Cliftonville went to Windsor Park on the opening day of the season and gave the champions a footballing lesson.

After the referees’ strike wiped out the first round of matches last Saturday, the Reds will get the chance to take the initiative again when they go to Windsor Park this Saturday.

On that occasion Declan O’Hara got the ball rolling with his first goal for the Reds as Eddie Patterson’s troops left the pitch to a standing ovation from the Linfield fans.

“That was an incredible day for us,” recalls O’Hara.

“I don’t think too many people would have given us a prayer but everything came together for us.

“It was my first goal for the club and there’s no better place to score than at Windsor against the champions.

“I haven’t scored too many goals in my career so I have very fond memories of that day.

“I was something else when the Blues fans applauded us off the pitch too.

“Hopefully I get the nod on Saturday but the most important thing is that we get off to a good start and beating Linfield would be a massive boost.”

If you listen to the scare mongers, the domestic dominance Linfield have enjoyed in recent years is about to come to a crashing halt.

The loss off 44-goal hitman

Peter Thompson will, of course, hit them hard but O’Hara hasn’t swallowed the rumours of the Blues’ demise.

He added: “The Blues have lost a few players like Peter Thompson and Thomas Stewart but I don’t believe they will be a weaker side to play against.

“They have Winkie Murphy, Michael Gault and Paul McAreavey amongst others and they have added a few players like Michael Carvill and Robbie White.

“They will still be a top side this year and I know it sounds like a cliche but who ever finishes above them will probably win the league — I just hope it is us.”

The Reds have threatened to disturb the Big Two strangle hold on the major honours in the past

two seasons and O’Hara is convinced they now have their best chance of going all the way.

“We have finished third for the past two years and we want to improve on that this season,” he said.

“I believe the lack of strength in depth in our squad was the major factor on both occasions because most the players were playing every game which was over 5o.

“The gaffer has brought more players into the club this summer and there will be great competition for places which will hopefully improve everyone.

“We’ll be raring to go on Saturday and hopefully this can be the year we can bring major trophies to Solitude.”

Belfast Telegraph


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