Belfast Telegraph

World Cup 2018

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Cup final firmly on backburner as Reds focus on the league: Gray


By Alex Mills

Barry Gray insists Cliftonville's pursuit of a third-place finish in the Danske Bank Premiership is helping to deflect the spotlight away from next month's Irish Cup final.

The Reds' chances of sneaking into third position, which could ultimately book their ticket to European football, received a setback last weekend when they were defeated by Coleraine.

It meant that David Healy's Linfield took up the running, having now established a five-point cushion over the Reds.

So, there will be no room for error when Gary Hamilton brings his Glenavon side to Solitude today for a game that could either make or break both sides' chances of reaching their ultimate goal.

"It's still achievable," stressed Gray. "With Crusaders and Coleraine going at it for the title, the race for third place has become less important.

"Last week was the Coleraine show. Fair play, they battled their way back to nick three points.

"But we are still in the battle - that's the beauty of the split. Every team has got something to play for over the last five games.

"To have any chance of making third, we'll have to win our last three games, but it's the same for both Linfield and Glenavon. We'll give it a go.

"There hasn't been much talk in the camp regarding the final. Yes, we've had to make arrangements and sort out things - club stuff that has to be done. But with that now out of the way, we can focus on our last three league games."

Belfast Telegraph

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