Cliftonville star Conor McMenamin has urged the Irish FA to make sure families will be allowed into Windsor Park to see the Irish Cup Final.
The showpiece is normally the biggest game of the season played in front of thousands of fans, including the players' families, but only a limited attendance may be possible at the National Football Stadium on July 31 due to Covid-19 restrictions.
Backroom staff and club officials will join the players at Windsor Park for the semi-finals on Monday, July 27 but no spectators will be able to watch Ballymena United face Coleraine and Glentoran take on Cliftonville.
The Irish FA are hopeful the NI Executive will allow the Windsor Park doors to open to some fans for the final and Reds hero McMenamin says it remains his dream to share the moment with his four-year-old daughter Daisy.
I would love to walk out with Daisy in the final and have that memory.
Cliftonville would have to overcome the Glens to make it to the decider but, amid talk of how many fans will be allowed in, the left-sided ace hopes all the players and staff involved will at least be able to experience the special occasion with their close family and friends.
"For me personally, if I played in the final I would like my immediate family to be able to attend, including my daughter Daisy, mum Esther and dad Andy," said the former Linfield and Glentoran man, who has never played in an Irish Cup Final.
"I said I would love to walk out with Daisy in the final and have that memory.
"It's a big occasion for a player and you want to share it with your close family. If I could get a handful of tickets to give to family, including my wee cousin Jay, I'd be happy with that to begin with.
"Friends can fight over the rest!
"It would just be so nice for families to experience the moment and have them there. At Windsor, there is room for fans with social distancing but I'm sure the clubs would be delighted if the families could be allowed into the ground."
McMenamin added: “Should we progress, we’d love our fans to be there and I know there’s a chance of supporters being admitted to the final.
“You always want to play in front of a big crowd and our semi-final would have certainly generated that so it’s a shame but if we go on and win the trophy, it won’t take away from our celebrations.
“Our game against Glentoran would have attracted a crowd fit for the final. Windsor is the only ground that could have accommodated the crowd.”
McMenamin is back training with his team-mates, though in a very different environment where there are temperature checks, hand washing, individual travel to training and no access to showers.
The players have missed the game and the Irish Cup clashes at least allows them to salvage something from what has been a very frustrating season.
“Teams won’t be sharing a dressing room and we are delighted to play the games,” added the 24-year-old former Warrenpoint Town man.
“Every player will have different personal circumstances and if they are worried about more vulnerable members of their family then you must respect that. Cliftonville have been following the Government’s guidelines and when you are doing those things to minimise the risks then hopefully things will go smoothly.
“The teams will be separated before kick-off but, of course, there will be close contact on the pitch when the first whistle goes.”
Talks are under way to finalise plans for next season and the sooner fans are allowed back into stadiums, the better.
“I love playing in front of the big crowds and I would rather wait until the fans are in,” added McMenamin.
“Club have suffered financially and they do need the matchday revenue.”
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