Richard Clarke is targeting another Irish Cup winner’s medal – this time with new club Crusaders.
The Crues booked their place in the semi-finals of the competition with Saturday’s 5-0 romp over Ballyclare Comrades.
Goals from Nathan Hanley, Matthew Snoddy, Declan Caddell, David McAllister and Gary McCutcheon were enough to see off the spirited resistance of 10-man Ballyclare – who had captain Andrew Doyle sent off in the 36th minute.
Crusaders will now meet the winners of the outstanding quarter-final tie between former club Glentoran and Glenavon.
Clarke was part of the Glens squad that lifted the Irish Cup last season, and the midfielder is hoping he can repeat the feat in 2014.
“Last year’s cup win with Glentoran was fantastic,” Clarke says of his success last season. “You can’t explain that winning feeling in a cup final. Sadly when the final whistle went I was in the dressing room after being sent off, but it was a wonderful feeling.
“It is a great day, with your family there and the big crowd. It is the best footballing moment in my career and hopefully I can repeat it with Crusaders.
“Some of the lads have already won an Irish Cup, and I have won one with Glentoran. So hopefully we can help the other younger lads step up and have their moment.
“We are favourites on paper, but it really means nothing.
“We have seen before in the cup that bookmakers’ odds mean very little.
“Big teams have been knocked out before. Our league position maybe influences our odds, but we have to be professional and get ready for a real battle against whoever we meet.”
Crusaders took a 15th-minute lead against Ballyclare after Doyle handled inside his own box – Hanley converting the penalty.
Doyle was then sent off for a second bookable offence in the 36th minute, and after that the tie was one-way traffic.
Snoddy doubled their lead in the 55th minute, before strikes from Caddell, McAllister and McCutcheon wrapped up the routine win.
“We are in the semi-finals which is nice, and we have another big game to look forward to against either Glentoran or Glenavon,” Clarke added.
“I obviously know Glentoran from my time there, and they are defending the trophy. Glenavon are also playing some great football at the minute, so whoever we get it will be tough.”
Ballyclare boss Eddie Hill was left to rue Doyle’s sending off in the first half.
“The sending off changed everything, and we had to switch our tactics,” he said.
“You are never going to get anything off Crusaders with 10 men, and it is very disappointing.
“I thought we might have got something with 11 players on the pitch, but it wasn’t to be.”