Belfast Telegraph

Table topping Cliftonville target Cup success

By Graham Luney

Stephen Garrett is confident the Cliftonville bubble will not burst any time soon.

The rampant Reds are sitting pretty at the summit of the Danske Bank Premiership and now they are also looking forward to an Irn-Bru Cup quarter-final showdown with Portadown at Solitude.

Tommy Breslin’s side progressed to the last eight in clinical fashion when they brought Ballinamallard United down to earth with a thud.

Garrett was on target during the convincing 5-0 triumph but the striker knows the wheels can quickly fall off the bandwagon in the domestic game.

Up next for the table-toppers is a tasty north Belfast derby with Crusaders at Seaview on Saturday so Garrett’s feet are firmly planted on the ground.

“I think it’s the quality in the squad that has got us this far and we really believe in ourselves,” said Garrett.

“The likes of Conor Devlin in nets and Liam Boyce who has come back from Germany and made a huge impact are quality performers while new signing from Blackburn, James Knowles, made his debut against Ballinamallard.

“So things are looking bright. You need to have a strong squad with talented young players and experienced campaigners and we have that.

“There are players on our bench who are struggling to get into the side but would start for other Irish League sides.

“Obviously the players have to perform and we are doing that with a lot of confidence.

“We are just relieved to make the next round of the Irn-Bru Cup because Ballinamallard have proved how strong they are and we knew it would be a big test for us. Coming flying out of the blocks certainly helped us while they had a man sent off (Mark Stafford) which didn’t help their cause.

“But we are under no illusions that your bubble can burst after one game so it’s one game at a time for us.”

Garrett is now switching his attention to shooting down the Crues on the Shore Road.

“Saturday’s game is going to be an interesting one and a tough away fixture,” he added. “We are just hoping to keep our run going and pick up another three points.

“Our record against them is much better at Solitude but we know we are facing a tough task against quality players. I suppose it just comes down to who wants it more on the day.”

One man who has stamped his class on the Premiership this term is Boyce and Garrett loves playing alongside his strike partner.

“When Liam came back from Germany people were expecting him to light up the league straight away but this is a tough league.

“It’s very competitive. It takes a while to get used to it again but he had a fantastic pre-season and the goals are going in,” commented Garrett.

The Irn-Bru Cup final eight draw has thrown up some other fascinating fixtures with Ballymena United manager Glenn Ferguson facing his old club Linfield.

There’s a battle of the Glens at Mourneview Park as Glenavon host Glentoran while Crusaders host Lisburn Distillery.

Belfast Telegraph


From Belfast Telegraph