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Cliftonville manager Tommy Breslin seeking trophy boost ahead of Premiership opener

Cliftonville Manager Tommy Breslin and Ballymena United boss Glenn Ferguson enjoy a tour of the new NI Hospice site on Somerton Road

Cliftonville Manager Tommy Breslin and Ballymena United boss Glenn Ferguson enjoy a tour of the new NI Hospice site on Somerton Road

  • by Gareth Fullerton
 

Cliftonville boss Tommy Breslin is hoping to start the new Premiership season with another trophy locked away in Solitude’s congested cabinet.

The reigning league champions kick-off the defence of the Gibson Cup against Glentoran next weekend.

The North Belfast giants claimed back-to-back titles for the first time in their history last season.

Now Breslin’s players are targeting an even more emphatic three-in-a-row and continue their domination of the Irish League landscape.

The Reds continue their preparations on Saturday afternoon in the NI Hospice Charity Shield.

The fixture – which returns to the pre-season calendar after a 14-year absence – is traditionally contested between the Premiership champions and Irish Cup winners.

This year’s revival sees Cliftonville face Irish Cup runners-up Ballymena United at Solitude (3pm kick-off), with cup winners Glenavon unable to play in due to prior commitments.

“It is a great fixture to be involved in, and it is great to see the Charity Shield back again,” Breslin said.

“Both Ballymena and ourselves are building up to next Saturday’s Premiership kick-off, so this is a decent workout.

“The fact there is a trophy up for grabs means we could go into the new season with some silverware, so that would be a bonus.

“It would give the players a lift ahead of next Saturday so we are looking forward to it.”

Whether striker Joe Gormley features at Solitude on Saturday afternoon remains to be seen.

Gormley is recovering from a knee injury picked up two weeks ago in Hungary before the club’s Champions League defeat to Debrecen.

Gormley came through Thursday night’s training session but Breslin won’t rush last season’s top scorer back.

“Joe did the full session which is positive, but we will continue to assess the knee,” Breslin said.

“It was badly swollen when he injured it, but it seems to have come down quite a bit. A scan revealed no major damage so we will evaluate the knee as we go along.”

Meanwhile, Ballymena have signed defender Kyle McVey.

McVey could make his debut at Solitude on Saturday.

“He ticks all the boxes - Kyle is good on the ball and brings experience to our squad,” manager Glenn Ferguson said.

 

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