Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 27 December 2014

O’Carroll cherishes first ever medal after Cliftonville's ‘fantastic’ display

Diarmuid O’Carroll was thrilled to rattle home the goal which sent Cliftonville on their way to a first League Cup success in some 10 years.

Not only that, but Saturday night’s cakewalk against Crusaders earned the much-travelled striker the first senior medal of a career that has taken him across Europe and back.

“We played well as a team throughout and deserved to win for the marvellous supporters who turned out in their thousands — we're delighted to have done it for them,” he beamed afterwards.

“We knew it was always going to be a tough match, but we have confidence in our own ability and believed that we could go out, play our natural game and get ourselves a result.”

And the 25-year-old Killarney man — who can count Celtic, Morecambe, Ujpest of Hungary and Valur of Iceland among his former clubs — added: “It was a fantastic team performance and a night I’ll always remember.”

Fellow goalscorer Ryan Catney admitted that even he was surprised by quite how dominant the Reds had been as they brought the trophy back to Solitude for just the second time in the |competition’s history.

“I never expected to be celebrating a 4-0 win — not against Crusaders, who are a top team,” he said.

“I didn’t see this scoreline coming, but I always expected us to win.

“There’s a great buzz and belief about us this season and I think we thoroughly deserved to win.

“We were always going to be relaxed because the one game at a time approach has worked for us. We don’t look too far ahead. We knew we had to play really well to win the cup and we managed that.”

Like O’Carroll, Catney was chuffed to get his hands on the first major silverware of a career that had hitherto delivered little more than County Antrim Shield success.

He added: “That’s my first senior medal and first goal of the season — a good time to score. It was a great ball by (Liam) Boycey and, luckily, it went through Colin Coates’ legs, I took two touches, closed my eyes and it went in.

“It’s great to get the first trophy in the bag and, for a lot of us, it’s the first senior medal.

“I’ve been here a few years, but boys like George McMullan, Barry Johnston and Ronan Scannell deserve nights like this and I’m really pleased the whole team have been able to deliver.”

And McMullan, who insisted that injured skipper Chris Scannell help him lift the trophy under the evening rain at Windsor Park, said: “It’s great to get a piece of silverware and to get a big one gets a monkey off our backs.

“We have belief in ourselves and we know what we’re capable of. We can now take it a game at a time towards the league title and this gives us another boost towards doing that.

“If we stick together, this team can be something special because this is a great bunch of lads.

“We owed ourselves this |performance in a cup final because some had questioned our ability to get over the line, but we’ve proven we have what it takes to get our hands on the big trophies — it’s just important that we kick on from here.”

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