Cliftonville can push on from cup win claims Liam Boyce

Cliftonville hero Liam Boyce believes Saturday’s victory over Crusaders in the WASP League Cup final can by a catalyst for success in the league.

The Reds play league leaders Linfield on Saturday, with the Blues now five points clear at the top of the table.

After the show-piece final, Boyce said: “We’ve a big game against Linfield on Saturday which gives us a chance to get within two points of them.

“Even though we’ve not been playing our best football, like last season, we’re still in with a chance of retaining the league.

“We’ve just beaten Crusaders who are the last team you want to face when you’ve lost two games in row. They’ve the best defence in the league, so it was massive for us to come through and secure the cup.

“After the Coleraine game (Tuesday’s 4-3 defeat in the Irish Cup) Tommy Breslin told us it just wasn’t good enough.

“He said he’d given players a chance and they hadn’t taken it.

“Even when we’re losing or not playing well we still create chances, so we can still win games. Hopefully we can take a couple of chances against the Blues on Saturday.”

Boyce was forced to watch from the sidelines while his team mates won a dramatic penalty shoot-out. The Northern Ireland international interview limped off in extra-time, after he picked up a calf injury.

But with top goalkeeper Conor Devlin in the sticks for Cliftonville, Boyce was always confident the Reds’ would prevail.

“When Colin Coates missed the first penalty I was over the moon, but then George McMullan, who scored the infamous penalty that won us the league, without showing any nerves, missed.

“I never thought George would miss, so that was a blow, but Conor made another great save and I knew then we had a great chance to win the game. It was unbelievable. We owe Conor a lot, as he won us the game.”

Cliftonville substitute Dairmuid O’Carroll believes Cliftonville’s success can be put down to their blend of youth and experience.

“We’ve got a great mix at the club, because we’ve got a few old hands who remember the days of the relegation battles and then you’ve got a group of young lads who are ambitious and want to go far in the game.

“The senior lads can help the younger lads, and the younger lads just have no fear. They’re not held back by these traditions. Guys like Joe Gormley and Liam Boyce couldn’t tell you about Cliftonville’s records, unless the set them themselves.”