Barry Johnston sets sights on Gibson Cup success with Cliftonville

TITLE AMBITION: Barry Johnston
TITLE AMBITION: Barry Johnston

Barry Johnston was a mere teenager the last time Cliftonville lifted the Gibson Cup.

You have to date back to 1998 to unearth that halcyon moment when Marty Quinn’s Reds claimed Irish League’s most prized trophy.

Johnston had just passed his driving test when his boyhood club rewrote their history books.

Now the 31-year-old midfielder is hoping to scribe another proud chapter in the Solitude club’s folklore by lifting the Danske Bank Premiership title this season.

Cliftonville are massive 1/14 favourites to do just that in 2013 – they boast a 12-point lead at the top of the table.

They have the best attacking and defensive records in the league and have already tucked away the IRN-BRU League Cup.

It is hard to see Tommy Breslin’s men folding as they approach the split.

But for experienced campaigner Johnston, they still face a “massive battle” before they can start celebrating any league success.

“We have got ourselves into a strong position, but we are taking nothing for granted,” he said.

“Crusaders have a game in hand and we still have to play them twice, so there will be plenty of points won and lost between now and the end of the season.

“We are just enjoying playing football and picking up positives results.

“It would be phenomenal to win the title with Cliftonville. I remember being there as a fan the day the club won it in 1998.

“I had just passed my driving test that day, and I ended up parking the car up and going celebrating for two days.

“My dad wasn’t too happy, but it is a great memory for me, and hopefully now we can repeat that and give the fans something else to cheer.

“It would certainly go down as the greatest moment of my football life.

“I’ve had brilliant days in my life, but in football terms, winning the title with Cliftonville would be phenomenal. It’s a big motivation for me.”