Belfast Telegraph

Crusaders' Michael Ruddy overjoyed to let the good times roll ahead of Wolves tie

 

New addition: Michael Ruddy with daughter Annabelle
New addition: Michael Ruddy with daughter Annabelle

By Graham Luney

Crusaders defender Michael Ruddy is counting his blessings during a golden three-month spell in his life.

Since May, the left-back has won the Tennent's Irish Cup for the first time, become a dad for the second time and now he's hoping to tackle English Premier League side Wolves in the Europa League.

The celebrations kicked off Saturday, May 4 when Ruddy helped the Crues defeat Ballinamallard United 3-0 at Windsor Park.

It was a glorious end to his first season with the north Belfast club and it added an Irish Cup winner's medal to the County Antrim Shield title, which had been won in thrilling fashion against Linfield earlier in the season.

In the run up to the Irish Cup decider, Ruddy was expecting a new arrival and his partner Kirsty gave birth to Annabelle five days after the showpiece occasion.

Now the former Ards and Ballymena United man is chasing a hat-trick of special memories with the tasty clashes against Wolves at Molineux tonight and Seaview next Thursday the only things capturing his imagination.

Ruddy played in both legs of the win over B36 Torshavn, but Wolves, who finished seventh in the Premier League last season, are going to be a very different animal.

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It's certainly been a thrilling and eventful few months for the Ruddy household.

"I've a three month old baby girl Annabelle now along with my other daughter Zelena," said the 25-year-old.

"Annabelle arrived five days after the Cup final on May 9, weighing 8lbs 10, and everything worked out really well.

"It's been a memorable few months for me and we were delighted to win the County Antrim Shield and Irish Cup.

"The European ties are also special and it's hard to take in everything that has happened. I played around 32 games in my first season and I'm delighted with that."

Ruddy is waiting to discover whether he will feature in the Wolves battles but he's determined to savour the daunting European adventure.

"It will be a great experience," he added. "It's not often you get a shot at a Premier League team and the atmosphere will be an experience in itself.

"Look beyond the six biggest clubs in England you come to Wolves, that's how massive they are. They have beaten all the top teams and have international players. We are under no illusion how difficult it will be and our main priority is to come away with a respectable scoreline. It's important we make them work for their goals and not hand them any gifts.

"I watch a lot of Premier League football and I've a fair idea of the challenge ahead.

"I played in both games against B36 Torshavn and thought I did okay, but we have such a strong squad you can never be certain of a starting role.

"I may have to settle for a place on the bench but I'll make the most of the experience whether I play or not."

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