Declan Caddell laughs off criticism as Crusaders close in on glittering prize
Declan Caddell says he's "fed up" listening to Crusaders' critics but the players will have the last laugh if they can grasp the Gibson Cup.
Stephen Baxter's side head to Shamrock Park tonight knowing a win there and a Linfield defeat at the Oval will effectively end the title race as the Shore Road side boast a vastly superior goal difference (plus 26).
Even though the Crues have smashed in 85 goals in 33 league battles this campaign they have been labelled a long ball side but Caddell says the critics are talking nonsense.
"I'm fed up listening to all that talk," said the midfielder.
"I've seen us score five and six goals in matches this season and blow teams away.
"We can mix it when we have to and play good football as well.
"When you have the best target man in the league in Jordan Owens you have to exploit his strengths.
"Defenders can't handle him and if we want to try something different guys like Diarmuid O'Carroll and Stephen O'Flynn have done the business.
"Everyone is entitled to their opinion but we have exciting wingers and strikers and you just have to look at the number of goals we have scored to acknowledge we are doing something right."
Boasting a nine-points lead with only five games remaining, the Crues have almost reached the promised land but Caddell and co. will take nothing for granted as they take on the Ports.
"We are certainly in the driving seat and we had hoped to be six points clear by the split but nine points is a big lead and we just have to keep doing what we have been doing," added Caddell.
"I know Portadown have a big cup final coming up but I think their big players will face us and I'm expecting a very tough game.
"Linfield's defeat to Glenavon shows anything can happen but hopefully we can finish the job.
"Ever since we lost to Portadown at Seaview we have just decided to have a real go at teams and the one game at a time mentality has served us well.
"Every game is a cup final for us and I don't care where or when we win the title as long as we can do it.
"It's been a long season for the boys with a lot of hard matches but we have really dug deep to get ourselves in this fantastic position."
Caddell and several of his comrades are thirsty to grab their first league winner's medal. "I've been here for 10 years and was just breaking through into the first team when the club was relegated so to come this far is a special feeling for myself and guys like Davy Magowan, Colin Coates, Chris Morrow and Jordan (Owens)," he added.
"What Stephen (Baxter) and those players have achieved is simply unbelievable.
"The league title is the only medal that I haven't won and would complete the collection for me."
One man who won't feature for the Crues tonight is winger Paul Heatley as he has a wedding to attend - his own.
'Heats' is walking up the aisle and by the end of the night it could be a historic day for the 27-year-old in more ways than one.