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George McMullan should not call it a day: Cliftonville legend Mickey Donnelly

By Graham Luney

Cliftonville legend Mickey Donnelly has pleaded with George McMullan not to quit at the end of the season and break his appearance record for the Reds.

McMullan, who is looking forward to a Testimonial match at Solitude on Monday night against a Celtic XI (7.45pm), has made 539 appearances for the north-Belfast side and he's planning to hang up his boots at the end of this season, meaning he won't catch Donnelly who played for the Reds 618 times.

Donnelly, however, is hoping the 34-year-old will have a change of heart and not jump ship just yet.

"I've spoken to George and he was talking about quitting but I hope he stays on and doesn't retire," said Donnelly, who lifted the Gibson Cup in 1998.

"It doesn't look like he'll reach my appearance record but if anyone deserves to it's George who was the heartbeat of great Cliftonville teams. The Celtic match is a fitting tribute to a loyal servant whose dedication, work-rate and passion have been an example and inspiration to everyone.

"I remember him coming into the squad from Newington and I thought 'who is this wee lad?' but he impressed in training and was always a player who was prepared to put his head where others were afraid to put their feet.

"George has a lot more to give to the club in terms of nurturing young talent and he's the perfect man for the job because I'm sometimes left with the impression that no-one cares about the kids in the Irish League."

Ahead of Monday's Testimonial, McMullan and his team-mates enjoyed a special visit from Celtic Foundation ambassador, young Jay Beatty. Jay, a lifelong Hoops fan and familiar face at Solitude, left with tickets to the big game courtesy of the main man himself, McMullan.

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