Belfast Telegraph

Hoops fan Quinn loved his little taste of paradise, despite Blues defeat

By Graham Luney

Celtic fan Niall Quinn will never forget his taste of Paradise on Wednesday night. The 23-year-old may have been on the wrong end of a 4-0 scoreline, but he was living a boyhood dream at Parkhead.

Brendan Rodgers' slick Celtic side swept aside the resilient Blues in professional fashion but the visitors returned home with their heads held high.

David Healy's men sweated for the cause in a daunting Champions League qualifier, but luck deserted them when two deflections led to goals from Scott Sinclair, who went on to bag a brace, and Stuart Armstrong, with Tom Rogic hammering in another during the 6-0 aggregate triumph.

Glengormley man Quinn soaked up the atmosphere on Linfield's first visit to Celtic Park. As one of the Bhoys' followers in the Windsor Park ranks he will cherish the memories more than most.

"It was crazy, the atmosphere was incredible," said Quinn, who has made more than 150 appearances for the Blues.

"I go to Celtic games when I can and being in the tunnel and hearing the music; it was unbelievable but so different from when you're there as a fan.

"It was a special night. I've been going to Celtic matches since I was five-years-old and getting to play there was just a dream. But even for the rest of the lads, including all the Rangers supporters, they loved every minute of it and I think we came out of it with great credit.

"I would love to do it all over again, even if we were chasing shadows!"

Quinn admitted he was nervous before the historic showdown but he felt the players left Glasgow with their pride intact.

"There were butterflies in your stomach in the tunnel," he added.

"You're standing there shoulder to should with a team like Celtic and you get want to get out there and get the match going, embrace it and take it all in.

"I always looked up to Scott Brown when he joined Celtic and I was going to games. It was special to play alongside him and share the pitch with him.

"Thankfully we were allowed to swap shirts after the first leg at Windsor and I got Kieran Tierney, who was the one I was after.

"We let other people talk about the incidents off the pitch after the first game. As a group, we knew we had come out of it with credit. The boys worked really hard and we knew that ourselves. The manager also told us, so we didn't really need it from outside the camp."

• Cliftonville have signed Northern Ireland under-21 goalkeeper Brett Long on loan from Dundee United.

The 20-year old came up through the Solitude ranks before moving to Scotland in 2013, but now returns to Belfast for the upcoming Irish League season.

Long will make his first appearance for the Reds in tomorrow's friendly against Lisbellaw United.

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