Belfast Telegraph

Cliftonville must deliver European football for loyal fans, says Curran

 

By Graham Luney

Chris Curran says he's devastated Cliftonville couldn't reward the Red Army with a rare Irish Cup celebration but he is ready to dig deep and help the club secure European football.

The former Ballinamallard United ace, who was substituted in the second half on Saturday, was denied the opportunity of placing his arms around the trophy as a proud skipper after Coleraine ran out 3-1 winners.

Barry Gray's men must raise themselves from the canvas and hold off the challenge of Ballymena United at Solitude tonight to progress to Saturday's Europa League play-off decider.

"We haven't had too long to lick our wounds," said Curran. "I'm sure when we reflect on the game we can take some positives from the performance. We have shown our character before and we are strong mentally. We will get our bodies and minds right for the play-off."

Curran hasn't given up on his own dream of lifting the Irish Cup in Cliftonville colours. The Reds started brightly, with Curran at the heart of their good play, but the Bannsiders weathered the early storm and exorcised the ghost of their loss to Linfield a year ago.

"The thing that hurts us the most is not being able to win it for the fans," said Curran.

"From the moment we got on the bus, the backing they gave us was unbelievable.

"Not to be able to pay them back is hard but that's just another reason why we must qualify for Europe.

"Hopefully I will win an Irish Cup but you have to take the opportunity because it may not come again.

"We have a good squad and I believe why can't we get there again? Coleraine have done it so there's no reason why we can't regroup and come back stronger."

Curran felt his men showed glimpses of their attacking quality but they had limited joy against a resolute Bannsiders defence.

"They have been strong all season but we have the quality to open up teams and Conor McDonald did open them up for the goal," he added.

"We might not have created four or five goalscoring opportunities but sometimes you don't need that and we have dangerous players. They have been solid defensively and they deserved their win."

Belfast Telegraph

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