Tommy Breslin ready to welcome old boys back to Solitude
Cliftonville 2 - 0 Donegal Celtic
An Irish Cup quarter final at home to Amateur League opposition is not to be sniffed at – but Cliftonville manager Tommy Breslin has special reasons for looking forward to his side's joust with Kilmore Rec.
The Reds secured their progress to the last eight with a patient display against Donegal Celtic on Saturday when, after being frustrated for long spells by a disciplined visiting outfit, the hosts netted twice late on through Joe Gormley and then a George McMullan penalty.
"Fair play to DC, they came here with a gameplan to try and stifle us and it worked for the most part," said Breslin.
"We had to show patience and keep plugging away all afternoon long and, though it probably wasn't the prettiest, I felt we did enough to win the game and are pleased to be in the next round."
There, they will lock horns with little Kilmore Rec – the Crossgar outfit who have upset the odds to reach the last eight in a memorable Cup run that has now delivered a trip to the Premiership's runaway leaders.
"Obviously being drawn against an Amateur League team is preferable to Premiership opposition, but Kilmore have a few former Cliftonville players in their ranks and that will add to the occasion a little," added Breslin.
"Their manager, Gary Kennedy, was here for a number of years and Mark Holland was a real favourite among our supporters so that gives the day a little extra dimension but we'll not underestimate them by any stretch of the imagination. They've reached the quarter-finals on merit and deserve the same level of respect you would give to anyone else.
"Another pleasing thing from our point of view is a home draw, which is probably what you want first and foremost when your name's in the hat. We've got a bit lucky in that Kilmore were out first and the game has had to be switched but, after playing Premiership opposition in the fifth and sixth rounds, maybe we had that wee bit of fortune coming."
Cliftonville made hard work of Saturday's triumph and, after seeing McMullan, Gormley and Liam Boyce go close in an uninspiring first-half, they failed to test visiting keeper Niall Murphy as Diarmuid O'Carroll, Ryan Catney, Stephen Garrett and Barry Johnston were off target following the interval.
The breakthrough finally game on 79 minutes when Gormley pounced for a clever lob and, when he was later felled by Murphy inside the area, McMullan made sure of victory by converting from the spot.