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'Far too long': Cliftonville determined to end 41-year Irish Cup heartache, says McCrudden

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Fan boy: Michael McCrudden is mobbed after opening the scoring

Fan boy: Michael McCrudden is mobbed after opening the scoring

�INPHO/Declan Roghan

Michael McCrudden

Michael McCrudden

Fan boy: Michael McCrudden is mobbed after opening the scoring

Michael McCrudden said it is time to end more than 40 years of Irish Cup heartache at Cliftonville after firing them into the semi-finals.

The striker scored his first goal since joining in January as they overcome Dungannon Swifts at a blustery Stangmore Park on Saturday.

It was harder work than it should have been, with the Reds wasting numerous chances before finally edging through.

Now they face Glentoran for a place in domestic football's showpiece game.

Cliftonville last won the cup back in 1979, but after Saturday, McCrudden sees no reason why they cannot end the wait.

"I thought that was the best we played going forward since I joined," said the 28-year-old.

"We had worked on our attacking play in training over the last week or so and it paid dividends today.

"If we can play like that, we know we can beat anybody.

"It has been 41 years since this club lifted the Irish Cup and that is far too long and we want to put that right this season."

In horrible conditions, this was a compelling clash.

Dungannon goalkeeper Sam Johnston pulled off a series of fine stops before McCrudden made the breakthrough in the 60th minute. He stabbed home at the back post after Conor McDermott's corner had been flicked on by defender Jamie Harney.

Conor McMenamin had the chance to double the lead from the spot, but his penalty - awarded for Ross Redman's foul on Joe Gormley - was saved.

The Swifts levelled in the 67th minute through Daniel Hughes' first time finish, but Cliftonville won it 11 minutes from the end when Gormley squared to Ryan Curran, who slotted home.

McCrudden's goal was his first since joining from Derry City.

He added: "I was just delighted to get off the mark for the club and especially in the quarter-final of the cup.

"The longer it takes to get that first goal, it plays more on your mind, so it was important for me.

"To get on the scoresheet was great and then going on to win the tie makes it all the better."

McCrudden also had words of praise for Johnston, whose heroics kept the Swifts in the game until the finish.

He said: "Their goalkeeper was brilliant - he made a save from one of my shots and it went out for a corner. I went over to him and asked is there any chance he could let one in.

"It was unfortunate that he was on the losing side because, to be fair to him, he was excellent.

"In the games I have been involved in, that is as good an attacking performances as we've had, just in terms of creating chances.

"Thankfully all the good play paid off and we got the win."

Cliftonville will now face Glentoran for a place in the final.

Boss Paddy McLaughlin said: "Glentoran are a quality side and it will be another tough, tough game. We know it is going to be difficult, but that same goes for any of the three sides we could have drawn at this stage."

The Swifts were deeply frustrated by two big penalty calls - twice Michael Carvill looked to be fouled, but both appeals were rejected.

The first was unfortunate, but the second, right at the end, had players surrounding referee Jamie Robinson.

It meant another quarter-final defeat - the third in five years - for the Tyrone side.

Johnston believes the Swifts must take encouragement from their performance going into the final weeks of the season.

"We were quite confident after the last couple of results, but anything can happen in cup games and it just wasn't our day, unfortunately," he said.

"We can take confidence from this performance into Tuesday night against Ballymena."

DUNGANNON: Johnston, Coyle, Wilson, King, Redman, Campbell, Smyth, McGinty (Lowe, 62 mins) McAleer (Teggart, 9 mins (Waide, 68 mins)), Carvill, Hughes. Unused subs: Byrne, Patton, McGuinness, Devlin.

CLIFTONVILLE: Brush, McMenamin, McDermott, Harney, A Donnelly, C Curran, Doherty (Breen, 82 mins), Rocks, R Curran, McCrudden, Gormley. Unused subs: Dunne, Foster, Wilson, Maguire, Casey, McCurry.

Referee: Jamie Robinson (Portadown)

Man of the match: Sam Johnston

Match rating: 8/10

Dungannon Sw 1

Cliftonville 2

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