Tommy Breslin insists Cliftonville can’t afford to rest on laurels

Cliftonville boss Tommy Breslin with the Gibson Cup last season
Cliftonville boss Tommy Breslin with the Gibson Cup last season

Tommy Breslin insists Cliftonville can’t afford to rest on their laurels following a stellar couple of years.

The Reds clinched back-to-back titles for the first time in their history last season.

They also retained the League Cup to bolster their silverware CV.

Last summer also saw the visit of Scottish giants Celtic help sell-out Solitude for a Champions League qualifier.

It has been a mesmeric rise to the top for Breslin and his players, an ascent that has helped generate a special atmosphere at their North Belfast home.

But with a new Danske Bank Premiership campaign dawning, the determined Reds boss is demanding more of the same from his lauded squad.

“There is a great atmosphere at Solitude – it has been a great couple of years for everyone associated with the club,” Breslin said.

“The progress at the club has been fantastic and it is down to a real team effort. The supporters have been treated to some superb football during that time, and have been able to celebrate some success because of it.

“But we won’t be taking anything for granted and we know we have to be at our best to repeat the feats of recent years.

“The players are hungry to do it again, but we have no divine right to do this, that or the other.

“Everyone starts with zero points this Saturday, and last April’s title success is gone now.

“We are back to a level playing field and everyone else will be going for it.

“We need to show that hunger and desire to ensure we are competitive, but all the signs are positive so far.”

A relaxed Breslin is refusing to panic over the departure of talisman Liam Boyce.

Boyce signed full-time terms with Scottish Premiership side Ross County in June.

The striker bagged 21 goals last season, and forged a formidable partnership with Joe Gormley – who netted 37 times, a club record.

“It is not a concern that we have lost Liam. We sort of knew it would happen this summer,” Breslin said.

“Liam gave us over 50 goals in the last two seasons, and he was good at linking up play and also added height when defending.

“But it is now up to other players to step up and replace him. Someone might come out of their shell and seize their chance.

“Liam and Joe were close, but all the lads are close. That’s what makes them a solid unit.

“Liam is gone, and we have to prove there is life after Liam Boyce. And I believe we have the players ready to step up to the plate and deliver.”