Cliftonville manager Tommy Breslin believes his players stand on the cusp of becoming “real legends” – but only if they retain the title this season.
The Reds were a class apart in dismantling Linfield at Windsor Park on Saturday, and with it ease one point clear at the top of the Danske Bank Premiership table.
Two goals from Liam Boyce either side of a Joe Gormley header helped the champions to their fourth league win of the season over Linfield.
It could prove a defining moment in this season’s title race, with just four games standing between Tommy Breslin’s side and second successive Gibson Cup.
History is in the making for the Solitude outfit, who are aiming to become only the fourth club to successfully retain the title.
But for Breslin, his players’ place in the pantheon of the club’s legends can wait.
“I think outside of the ‘Big Two’ only Portadown have retained the title, and we have the chance to emulate those clubs,” he said.
“That should act as a massive motivator, but we are not even considering that at the moment. We are only focusing on our next game. We have Glentoran in two weeks’ time.
“The players are already in the club’s history books by winning the title, and they would be real legends if they retain it.
“But we will deal with that if or when that happens. We have a lot of tough tests between now and the end of the season.”
Boyce scored two minutes after the break and then Gormley added a second in the 68th minute.
Linfield skipper Michael Gault reduced the arrears with a superb 25-yard effort in the 74th minute to set up a grandstand finish.
But with six minutes remaining, Boyce showcased his class once again with a superb turn and shot that nestled in the bottom corner to complete an impressive and deserved 3-1 victory.
“I just think the players we have, that on our day we can beat anyone,” Breslin added.
“It is never easy coming here, but we knew we had to win today. That’s what we came to do, and in my mind it was never in doubt.
“I thought it was a very good performance. We were dominant in the first half but came in at the break with the score still 0-0.
“We got two goals in the second, and we maybe stopped a bit and conceded a goal. We maybe feared the worst at 2-1 but the third goal came and settled us.”