Cliftonville boss Tommy Breslin admits his side got the Irish Cup draw they wanted - but not for the reasons which might first seem apparent.
After overcoming Donegal Celtic with late Solitude goals from Joe Gormley and George McMullan on Saturday, the Reds were paired with lowly Kilmore Rec in the last eight and Breslin is looking forward to meeting up with a few familiar faces when the tie comes around.
“Obviously being drawn against an Amateur League team is preferable to Premiership opposition, but Kilmore have a few former Cliftonville players in their ranks and that will add to the occasion a little,” he explained.
“Their manager, Gary Kennedy, was here for a number of years and Mark Holland was a real favourite among our supporters so that gives the day a little extra dimension but we’ll not underestimate them by any stretch of the imagination. They’ve reached the quarter-finals on merit and deserve the same level of respect you would give to anyone else.
“Another pleasing thing from our point of view is a home draw, which is probably what you want first and foremost when your name’s in the hat. We’ve got a bit lucky in that Kilmore were out first and the game has had to be switched but, after playing Premiership opposition in the fifth and sixth rounds, maybe we had that wee bit of fortune coming.”
The Reds were at far from their best on Saturday but were nevertheless deserving winners against an organised and disciplined Donegal Celtic side who, though grateful to goalkeeper Niall Murphy for a smart 20th minute save from George McMullan, restricted their hosts to a series of wayward shooting that looked set to earn the Hoops another crack in a Suffolk Road replay.
Unfortunately for them, however, all their good work was undone when Jaimie McGovern’s headed clearance split the DC defence and Gormley nipped in to lob the advancing keeper with just 11 minutes left on the clock.
The advantage was doubled right at the death when Gormley teased Murphy into a foul to earn a penalty kick, which McMullan stepped up to convert.
“Fair play to DC, they came here with a gameplan to try and stifle us and it worked for the most part,” added Breslin.
“We had to show patience and keep plugging away all afternoon long and, though it probably wasn’t the prettiest, I felt we did enough to win the game and are pleased to be in the next round.”
CLIFTONVILLE: Devlin 7, McGovern, 7 Johnston 7, McMullan 8, Garrett 8, O’Carroll 7, Seydak 8, Smyth 8, Catney 7, Gormley 7, Boyce 7. Subs: R Scannell, Donnelly (for O’Carroll, 62 mins) 6, Cosgrove (for Johnston, 90 mins) 5, McVeigh, Knowles (for Boyce, 84 mins) 6.
DC: Murphy 7, Keegan 7, McShane 7, Bradley 7, McAreavey 7, Miskimmin 6, O’Neill 6, Downey 8, Cleary 7, Burns 7, Gargan 7. Subs: Todd (for Miskimmin, 69 mins) 7, Deans (for McAreavey, 62 mins) 6, McCann (for Downey, 78 mins) 6, Devine, Hughes.
REFEREE: Mark Courtney (Dungannon)