Darren Murphy believes Liam Boyce holds the key to Cliftonville’s title crusade

Cliftonville's Liam Boyce celebrates after putting his side 1-0 up against Dungannon
Cliftonville's Liam Boyce celebrates after putting his side 1-0 up against Dungannon

Darren Murphy believes Cliftonville should forsake any big-money offers for talisman Liam Boyce during the January transfer window.

Boyce headed home his 20th goal of the season on Saturday as the league leaders saw off Dungannon Swifts at Solitude.

George McMullan added a second half penalty as the Reds eased to a 2-0 victory – a result that sees them stay nine points clear at the top of the Danske Bank Premiership.

Last season Cliftonville lost Rory Donnelly in the New Year window when Swansea City came calling.

Now the title favourites are sweating over the future of 21-year-old Boyce – with the Northern Ireland international remaining on the radar of a number of clubs in England and Scotland.

And for Dungannon boss Murphy, Reds manager Tommy Breslin should do “everything in his powers” to keep the striker at Solitude for the remainder of the season.

“I think Liam could be the difference between Cliftonville winning the title and losing it,” Murphy said. Today he wasn’t brilliant, but he still did enough.

“He is a top player and he is the single biggest difference in that side.

“Liam is their talisman. Every team has a focal point, and Boyce is that man.

“I played with a lot of good players at Linfield and won titles and Irish Cups, and a certain Glenn Ferguson was the man back then. Liam is very similar and plays the game the same way.

“If I was Tommy, I would be telling Gerard Lawlor (Cliftonville chairman) that Liam is not for sale.”

Murphy believes if Boyce exits Solitude in January it could potentially derail their quest for a first title since 1998.

“That would be my only fear – for Cliftonville to lose Liam in January,” Murphy added.

“No disrespect to Diarmuid O’Carroll, Joe Gormley and Stephen Garrett, but Liam is different class. He is in a different league.

“He is so good, and makes everyone in Cliftonville’s team play. He will have a big say in where the league title goes. If they keep him fit and scoring goals then they will have a good chance.

“If I was Tommy Breslin, I would do all I can to keep him. I would not be letting him go. Liam makes them tick.

“They might get offered big money for him, but I would forsake the cash. For me, winning the league title is the main aim, and you get the money that comes with that.”