Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 18 September 2014

Cliftonville to take the Mickey as old boy heads home

Michael Collins is being lined-up for a sensational return to Cliftonville — eight years after an acrimonious departure from the club.

Collins is ready to return to the Irish League as his switch to League of Ireland football with Dundalk turned sour when the Louth club released virtually their entire squad last week.

And it appears that north-Belfast will be the midfielder’s destination.

An initial meeting between Collins and Cliftonville officials has already taken place and it is understood that further talks are planned.

Collins was an integral part of the Reds side that won the Irish League title in 1998 — the first time the club had been champions in 88 years.

Three years later an incident during an Intertoto Cup tie brought his time with the club to an end.

Collins had already been sent-off when he head-butted an opponent on his way off the pitch. Laurence Stitt, the manager at the time, suspended Collins and put him on the transfer list.

He then joined Portadown and won the league in his first season at Shamrock Park, followed by the Irish Cup three years later.

He moved to Newry City in December 2007 and on to Dundalk earlier this year.

Paul McAreavey has also exited Oriel Park this week and is believed to be talking to Ballymena United.

Former Northern Ireland under-21 international Chris Turner, who like Collins has also left Dundalk, has returned to Sligo Rovers, signing a two-year-contract with the club.

Although it will come too early for Collins, as he won’t be able to play for any new club until January, Cliftonville will face the winners of Coleraine and Lisburn Distillery in the quarter-finals of the Co-operative Insurance Cup.

The Whites hold a 1-0 advantage from the first-leg and will travel to the north-west hopeful of progressing.

“We’ve got to worry about getting past Coleraine first of all before we worry about Cliftonville,” said Whites boss Tommy Wright.

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