Linfield will aim to wreck title party, warns Breslin
Published 10/04/2013 | 08:00
Cliftonville are planning a title-winning party at Solitude on Saturday – but not everyone sees it that way.
Reigning champions Linfield will roll up at the north-Belfast venue with a fierce determination not to see their championship crown slip off without a fight, just like Manchester City at Old Trafford last night.
For David Jeffrey's men it's an opportunity to show some pride at the end of a painful campaign and in the process delay the Gibson Cup celebrations in north-Belfast.
The Reds only a need a point from their four remaining Premiership battles as their goal difference is so superior to Crusaders – Tommy Breslin's sharp-shooters have smashed in 26 more goals than their neighbours and it's that clinical finishing from Liam Boyce and Joe Gormley which has fired them over the finishing line first.
Breslin watched his players book a place in the Irish Cup final with a second win over Crusaders in five days, but there is still a little work to do in the title race.
With the leaders enjoying a bumper 14-points lead, the fat lady may have already sung her heart out and left the stage, but the Solitude supremo knows that Linfield will make the trip across Belfast on Saturday looking to gatecrash the party.
"To be honest, I don't think the players will need any motivation for the Linfield game," said Breslin whose side have already captured the IRN-BRU League Cup.
"I don't want them to be too anxious before they go out and what I know of David Jeffrey is that he won't want the league won when his team are there.
"We can do it against a Coleraine, Glentoran or Ballinamallard, but he won't want us to do it against his side. But we want to win the league and we want to win it in a bit of style.
"I've always maintained that and that's the way we will prepare for it. I don't want us to just stumble over the line – I think we deserve to win it on our own merits."
Breslin is also keen to praise Gormley who grabbed the second goal against Crusaders with the kind of precision you would expect from a surgeon's knife.
"He's been outstanding," added Breslin. "He was a bit down on himself when he hadn't scored in four or five matches and the players were giving him some abuse, but he's a great finisher and I was delighted he got the goal and that particular monkey off his back.
"His retort was 'I'll score in the big games for you' and he's been true to his word. He's such a good kid and is as honest as the day's long."
Meanwhile, Mickey Donnelly, the last Cliftonville skipper to lift the Gibson Cup in 1998 says he believes the class of 2013 is a better footballing side than Marty Quinn's heroes. "We were a team that could roll up our sleeves and get stuck in," said Donnelly who is now on the coaching staff at Cliftonville.
"Teams didn't bully us, we were up for a physical challenge but I look at the current Cliftonville side and I think they can play some incredible football.
"There wasn't much of that the year we won the league. The players' training methods are so different now and it allows them to perform better week in week out.
"People have talked about Joe Gormley and Liam Boyce, but I'm a huge fan of the midfielders Ryan Catney and Barry Johnston. The work and effort they have put in has been immense. Geordie McMullan is another one who has been an inspiration.
"We also used to have a quiet defence but Marc Smyth has guided Jaimie McGovern and from one to 11 the boys have been superb. The league title was over a long time ago."
That's just as well for Donnelly as he will be at a Spice Girls concert in London on Saturday when the current Reds heroes could be enjoying their champagne!