Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 23 July 2014

Breslin feels no pressure as Cliftonville sit proud at top

Cliftonville's George McMullan celebrates his double scored in front of a live TV audience

Tommy Breslin has spelt out the reason why he isn’t feeling the pressure as his Cliftonville team lead the race for the Danske Bank Premiership title.

If it is tough at the top it certainly isn't showing on Breslin and his players, who are playing with smiles on their faces.

If anything the pressure is on the two teams with the most realistic chance of catching the Reds, with Crusaders trying to make up a six-point gap on their north-Belfast rivals while Linfield are 10 points adrift.

And after the Reds beat Glentoran 4-1 in front of the Sky Sports cameras on Monday night, those other teams now have just 13 games in which to make up the necessary ground to stop the Gibson Cup heading to Solitude.

Cliftonville, however, have 14 games left to play and by this time next week their advantage over the rest could be nine points, as they face Donegal Celtic in a game in hand next Tuesday.

“There is no fear,” said Breslin.

“We’re not supposed to be in this position. We’re really just going to enjoy it and if it lasts until the end of the season we will be delighted and if it doesn’t then at least we’ve given it a good go.

“What I can say is that we’ll be going 100% into every game trying to win it.

“There is belief that we’ll be there in the mix come the end of the season.

“There are still a lot of games to play we just hope to be in the mix come the end of April.”

With both the Blues and the Crues winning their games at the weekend — against Coleraine and Glenavon respectively — there was at least some pressure on Cliftonville, but two goals from George McMullan after Stephen Carson had given Glentoran the lead, followed by late Liam Boyce and Tomas Cosgrove finishes lifted that.

And that meant the Reds also hit back at those who thought that their stay at the top would be shortlived after they’d suffered a 3-1 defeat against Linfield on New Year’s Day.

“It was important after Crusaders and Linfield won at the weekend that we got a result ourselves and I am proud of the players that we did that,” said Breslin.

“I thought we played well and showed tremendous character.

“We went a goal down and people were maybe questioning us, but I knew, with the quality of players in our dressing room, and they came out and answered any critics that there are about.

“Every game is big and every team is capable of beating every other team if you’re not up for the fight.

“We have shown our qualities and it was vital that we matched the results of Crusaders and Linfield at the weekend just to show that the wheels haven’t come off the wagon, that we are a good side and that we’re there for the duration.”

Meanwhile, Ballymena United have snapped up Gary Liggett, who was made available by Lisburn Distillery at the weekend.

Liggett, who was chased by Sky Blues boss Glenn Ferguson during the summer before he re-signed for the Whites, has moved to the Showgrounds on an 18-month deal.

Distillery have signed Aaron Boyd from Coleraine as a replacement, but they have also lost centre-half Dermot McVeigh, who has returned to Cliftonville at the end of his loan deal.

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Northern Ireland defender Ryan McGivern marked his 23rd birthday birthday yesterday by agreeing to extend his loan at Hibernian until the end of the season.

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