Breslin gives all the credit to Kilmore after resilient display
Cliftonville 2 Kilmore Rec 0
While admitting that his Cliftonville side were far from at their best despite victory over Kilmore Rec, boss Tommy Breslin was keen to take nothing away from the Amateur League visitors.
The Crossgar minnows gave their Premiership hosts plenty to think about throughout a resilient display at Solitude, where the contest remained in the balance until as late as the 85th minute.
Substitute Martin Donnelly struck the security goal to add to Eamonn Seydak's opener earlier in the second period and, pleased as he was to guide the Reds to a fourth Irish Cup semi final in six seasons, Breslin was effusive in his praise of Kilmore.
"They came here with a plan and it wasn't all that far away from working, so you have to give them real credit for that," he said.
"It wasn't a case of sticking 11 men behind the ball and just trying to crowd us out, either. They got forward when they could and had a real go at us – which is exactly what we expected, to be honest.
"We didn't want to take any chances on being on the wrong end of an upset, so we treated Kilmore the same way we would have done any other opponent.
"We had them watched, got some reports about them and were in touch with some other Amateur League teams to learn as much as we could.
"What we learned was that they would be organised, would stand up to us and would look to make use of big Peter Telford as an outlet up front.
"Our own performance wasn't what we would have wanted but, as they say, cup matches are all about winning and I do feel we did enough to deserve our place in the next round.
"Having said that, though, if there's any team leaving with the real credit for the day then it's Kilmore because they did very well indeed."
Breslin's opposite number Gary Kennedy, who was afforded a warm reception when he made his Solitude return as a 71st minute substitute, was similarly enthusiastic about his team's display.
"I wouldn't say I'm happy at losing 2-0 but, when you consider Linfield were well beaten here and Cliftonville have been hitting fours, fives and sixes all season, it shows how well we played," he said.
"It was the sort of performance we wanted to produce and everybody worked hard to make sure we gave a good account of ourselves. To play like that against a team I hope will soon be Irish League champions should make us all very proud."
Star of the show as far as the visitors were concerned was skipper Mark Holland who, like Kennedy, was given a standing ovation at the end of the game by a home support still grateful for his legendary achievements during his own tenure with Cliftonville.
"Mark was fantastic and I'm really pleased for him that he was able to come here and play like that," added Kennedy, "but all of the players made me proud.
"I have to say a big thank you to the crowd who came out to support us here.
"It was a big day for the club and the amount of support we had made it even better for myself and the players. At the same time, the Cliftonville fans were great too. They gave me a good reception and were very generous at the end when the boys were coming off."