Belfast Telegraph

Friday 18 April 2014

Barry hopes to make his Mark for Cliftonville

Barry Holland has spoken of his immense relief at the news that his brother, Mark, will be able to play in the biggest game of his career.

Excitement is mounting ahead of the first ever all-north Belfast Irish Cup final but it was threatening to become a bitter-sweet moment for the Holland household.

Mark was due to be suspended for the showpiece game after being handed a three-game ban for serious foul play.

But the striker has appealed that suspension and that means he can play on until he is granted a personal hearing.

However, when news first broke about Mark’s suspension, Barry was beginning to contemplate walking out at Windsor Park without his brother by his side.

He would have done so with a heavy heart as any cup victory would have been bitter-sweet.

But now both the Holland brothers look set to fight for the Reds cause at Windsor Park.

An Irish Cup final is an emotional experience for any player but Barry is now overcome with relief after learning that Mark can come to the party.

“It would have been a really, really big disappointment if Mark was unable to play,” said Barry.

“The club means a lot to him and he has scored a lot of crucial goals for Cliftonville, but he has also been my rock since I joined the Reds.

“He was a massive help to me and helped inspire me to become a better player.

“Winning the cup without Mark would be a bitter-sweet moment. It would be a great achievement for the club but bitterly disappointing if Mark wasn’t involved or helping to make it happen.

“The family connections at this club are very strong and we want to win it for each other.”

A family spirit is more evident at the Reds than most clubs as there are the Holland and Scannell brothers and a father-son relationship with manager Eddie and young Mark.

A lot of families are gripped by a sense of anticipation but it is the Reds’ famous camaraderie which has inspired glory down through the years.

“Nerves will play a big part but hopefully they will bypass us in the final,” added Barry.

“We know what Crusaders are capable of. They are a big, strong physical team.

“We’ll have to match them in that department and hopefully play to our ability and let the skill factor come into play. Our first priority is to play well on the day and hopefully enjoy a little luck because it could be a tight game.

“Our record against them over the last two years has been disappointing but Saturday is the big one.

“If you look at our league positions you would say that Crusaders are a much better team but our position is a false one.

“There will be a lot of tension around and that is understandable. This isn’t just any other game. You are sent out to do a good, professional job and hopefully I can accomplish that.”

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