Cliftonville's Chris Curran wants to live trophy dream
Cliftonville 4 Loughgall 1
Skipper Chris Curran admits he'll take great pride in leading Cliftonville into the Tennent's Irish Cup final, but it will mean nothing if he is not hoisting the trophy at the end of the May 5 showdown with Coleraine.
Barry Gray's boys took another giant step of ending 39 years of hurt by demolishing Championship side Loughgall in a totally one-side semi-final at the Oval.
It was deadly duo, Joe Gormley and Rory Donnelly, who led the charge, grabbing two goals each.
Even though Andrew Hoey did pull one back for Dean Smith's overrun side, they were perhaps fortunate to leave east Belfast with a respectable score line.
Having previously dumped out Warrenpoint Town, Cruaders and Linfield, Curran believes if his team are to parade the trophy for the first time since 1979, they'll have taken the most difficult route as they now must take out the league's inform team in the decider.
"We certainly don't do things the easy way," said the former Ballinamallard United man. "We are growing with every round and with every game.
"I think we showed the professional side of our game against Loughgall. We got the job done early on and were patient and commanding in terms of seeing out the game.
"We got off to a great start and that's what we wanted before the game, we wanted to put the pressure on early.
"To be honest, I think the wins against the Crues and Linfield, helped bring us together a bit more as a group, it helped us to push on. Everything seems to be coming together at a good time.
"When you have boys like Joe and Rory in goal scoring form like that, it makes the job so much easier for the rest of us.
"We know if we put the ball in the right areas, they can put them away - they can capitalise even on half chances. Everything is simplified for us.
"They are linking up really well. We have found a bit of form at the right time, but it's important we remain grounded.
"The semi-final was one of those occasions we knew we had a job to do, being favourites to win it. We ticked it off and go on to the next one
"Personally, it will be a proud moment for me leading out the team.
"It's something that I still haven't got my head around yet, but I know it would be even better if I was going up to lift the trophy at the finish."
The Reds last reached the final back in 2013, losing 3-1 to Glentoran after extra time.
"Getting there (to the final) is only part of it - we now have to go now and actually win it," added Curran. "A few boys in the changing room have bad memories from the last final and they want to make things right.
"I came to the club just after they had lost the cup final. This is a new team, a new group, so this is all new to most of them.
"You are only remembered when you win trophies. It's now up to us."
Loughgall boss Dean Smith admitted his boys failed to recover from Gormley's knockout blow after only 22 seconds.
"The game plan out of the window practically from the kick off," he said.
"We had the kick-off, but it was the only kick we got until the ball was in the net.
"Yes, it started badly, and it was then all downhill.
"To be honest, that has been our Achilles' heel all season. We keep conceding early goals and you can't afford to do that with boys like Gormley and Donnelly around.
"Those boys would hurt any side in the league, never mind us."
CLIFTONVILLE: Buchanan, Montgomery, Rea, Copeland, Stewart, Dallas, Mullen (Ferris, 66 mins), Ferguson, Liggett, Hoey (McConnell, 78 mins), Campbell. Unused subs: Ballard, Neill, McMaster, Stretton, Robinson.
Cliftonville: Neeson, McGovern (Grimes, 78 mins), Ives, Harney, Curran (Lavery, 74 mins), Bagnall, Gormley, J Donnely, Costgrove, McDonald, R Donnelly (Winchester, 63 mins). Unused subs: Mooney, G Donnelly, Garrett, A Donnelly.
Referee: Keith Kennedy (Lisburn)
Man of the match: Joe Gormley
Match rating: 7/10