Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 17 April 2014

Linfield show support to Cliftonville

Linfield chairman Jim Kerr has urged the Irish FA to give Cliftonville permission to play Paul Murphy in Tuesday night’s Irish Cup semi-final replay.

The powers-that-be at Windsor Avenue have blocked emergency loan signing, Murphy, from appearing in the cup but he is free to play in the league — ironically his debut will come this afternoon against the Blues at Windsor Park.

The replay is far from certain to go ahead with the Reds putting together an appeal but Kerr believes common sense has to prevail — even if that means the Blues don’t make their fourth final in a row.

“Personally speaking, I want Linfield to progress to the Irish Cup final after beating the strongest Cliftonville team possible,” said Kerr.

“If that means them playing their emergency loan goalkeeper then so be it because nobody wants to see a situation where an out-field player is forced to start the game in goal.

“I know the rule forbids this and while I understand why the rule is there, it is to stop teams getting to the final then signing a host of players.

“Cliftonville clearly aren’t trying to get an advantage over us by bringing in a new goalkeeper, they don’t have anyone else.

“The rules were bent to allow the replay to take place 17 days after the original tie, not within the four days as the rules state.

“With that in mind I think it would be common sense for this rule to be massaged in a similar way because playing the game is the most important thing.

“Any football match, not just an Irish Cup semi-final, should be decided on the pitch, not a committee room.”

IFA chiefs are privately believed to be worried that the Blues could lodge an appeal if they lost any replay with Murphy in goal for the

Reds but Kerr is adamant this wouldn’t happen.

He added: “As I’ve said, from a personal point of view I would think a game such as this should be decided on the pitch, not a committee room.

“Maybe not everyone will agree but that’s certainly the way I think.”

Meanwhile, Jamie Mulgrew has warned Glentoran they can forget about the Blues cracking under the title heat.

The champions need to win today to stay hot on the heels of the Glens — assuming Alan McDonald’s side overcome Lisburn Distillery at the Oval.

“We are obviously disappointed we didn’t close out the game against Glentoran but now we can only focus on the job we have to do,” he said.

“We have tough battles we need to win and the important thing is we have a settled team now which is playing well. In previous races for the title we have been able to move through the gears when needed and we are doing that now.”

Mulgrew is aware that if he is booked this afternoon he will be suspended for the Irish Cup final — should Linfield get there.

“I really feel for Davy Magowan who looks set to miss the final and I hope I will not have to experience that feeling,” he said.

“But I am staying focused on beating Cliftonville in the title race. That is the most important game and the biggest challenge for us.

“We know they are a formidable side but it’s another must-win clash for us.”

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