Belfast Telegraph

Linfield v Cliftonville: Take it as red; Curran wants a win

By Stuart McKinley

Damian Curran wants to boost Linfield’s league title defence by beating Cliftonville this evening.

That may seem obvious, until you realise that this evening’s meeting with the Reds at Windsor Park is in the Paddy Power County Antrim Shield.

One of those regular twists of fate in the fixture list sees the Belfast rivals face each other tonight and then again on Saturday and Curran believes winning the first one will boost the Blues ahead of the second.

“The two games this week are both going to be very difficult because Cliftonville are a top side and they are always a hard challenge,” said Curran.

“Some people might say that this is only the County Antrim Shield, but there is never a case of us prioritising, the next game is always the most important one, you can never take your eye off the ball and we won’t be thinking about Saturday.

“For us it’s about winning this one and if we can do that then it will give us a psychological boost going into Saturday’s game, which is our bread and butter.

“That’s why winning on Tuesday night is important and it can help us going into the second game against Cliftonville, although that’ll be a different game.

“We’ve won our last three games in the league and we want to keep that form going.

“As well as that when you’re in any competition you want to try to win it and that’s what we’ll be doing in the Shield.”

Curran has another very valid reason for wanting to taste victory tonight, after being in the losing team in the last two Shield finals.

“The County Antrim Shield is the only trophy I haven’t won, so I would like to put that right,” said Curran.

“It would be nice to complete the medal collection and if you can get the first trophy of the season in the bag then it gives you confidence for the rest of the season.”

The Blues v Reds battle is the Paddy Power tie of the round in the Shield — and given that the teams finished first and second in the league last season that’s hardly a surprise.

They have both played five games so far in the league in the current campaign, with three wins and one defeat each, placing them third and fourth.

“We didn’t have the best of starts to the season, but we’re on a bit of a roll now,” said Curran.

“We know everyone will be out to beat us and Cliftonville will definitely be contenders this season, even though they have lost Liam Boyce.”

This season the entry list for the Shield has been cut to just eight teams, meaning that the winners of tonight’s ties will go straight into the semi-finals, which are scheduled to be played on Tuesday 26 and Wednesday 27 October.

Elsewhere tonight Donegal Celtic will host the only intermediate team in the competition, Kilmore Rec.

The Crossgar side — who play in the Amateur League — were handed a place among the Premiership sides as their reward for winning the Steel & Sons Cup last season.

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