Belfast Telegraph

Friday 1 August 2014

Cliftonville won’t throw title away: McAllister

Stephen Garrett celebrates scoring Cliftonville's goal in the 1-0 win over Donegal Celtic

At McAllister is backing his old club Cliftonville to complete the job and win the Irish FA Premiership title.

And the Donegal Celtic manager’s message to the chasing pack is to stop making excuses and work even harder to get in among the challengers.

McAllister was unable to stop the Reds from opening up a nine-point lead at the top of the table on Tuesday night, when Tommy Breslin’s team won 1-0 on the Suffolk Road, but he will be happy if a DC win over Linfield on Saturday helps the Solitude side move even further ahead of their rivals.

“I sincerely hope that Cliftonville go on and win the league,” said McAllister.”I get on very well with Tommy Breslin and his coaching staff, Peter Murray and Gerard Lyttle, and they have done very well this season.

“I think they will win it, but they still have big tests to come and they will lose games between now and the end of the season — but so will others.

“People have said all season that they play the best football, but we set about them and made life difficult for them.

“Then, when they were off the boil, they have a player like Liam Boyce who produces one bit of magic and that leads to a goal for Stephen Garrett.

“It’s no consolation to us that we played well because we are in a relegation fight and we got nothing from the game.”

While the Reds streak nine points clear of Crusaders and 13 ahead of Linfield at the summit, McAllister and his DC players are still battling for safety at the foot of the table.

They are four points ahead of bottom-placed Lisburn Distillery, but 11th is likely to be as high as Celtic are able to finish this season, with Glenavon eight points above them and Dungannon Swifts nine ahead.

After that just eight points separate fourth-placed Ballinamallard United and Ballymena United, who are in eighth.

And McAllister sees those statistics as a sign of the way the league has gone in recent times.

“I believe over the last few years that two leagues have developed,” said McAllister.

“Every year there is maybe one place in the top six to fight for, but other than that it’s the same teams at the top and bottom and the gap is getting wider.”

And McAllister has strong words for those that point to Linfield’s income from the use of WIndsor Park for internationals as the reason for their on-going success.

“The big difference is quality and the better players perform more consistently,” said McAllister.

“A good player plays well in five out of six games, but in the one he doesn’t play well he makes sure that his opposite number doesn’t either.

“That’s what I have been trying to get through to my players.

“I don’t buy into the idea that finances dictate success. The teams at the top of the table are in Europe and in the Setanta Cup because they have won matches to get there and that’s what it’s all about; winning matches and having the right players.

“I can’t imagine that Cliftonville’s budget is massive and you will never hear me using finances as an excuse.

“There might be a massive gap between us and Cliftonville in terms of points, but over 90 minutes I thought we matched them and we were disappointed not to get something out of the game.

“If you are fit, well organised and have a hunger and desire to do well it doesn’t matter how much you are getting paid.”

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