IRISH CUP: Cliftonville boss Gerard Lyttle would love to end 37 years of hurt

Cliftonville boss Gerard Lyttle
Cliftonville boss Gerard Lyttle

Cliftonville manager Gerard Lyttle is determined to end 37 years of hurt by guiding the Solitude club to Irish Cup glory this season.

The Reds last tasted success in the blue riband trophy in 1979 courtesy of a 3-2 victory over Portadown.

Since then they have lost three finals (1997, 2009 and 2013) and were disqualified from the 1999 showpiece after they were found guilty of fielding an ineligible player in a semi-final win over Linfield.

Lyttle will be hoping history is kinder to Cliftonville this season – starting with Saturday’s sixth round tie against Championship 2 underdogs Sport and Leisure Swifts.

“We obviously won back-to-back titles in recent years, and we have won the League Cup and County Antrim Shield – but the Irish Cup has somehow eluded us,” Lyttle said.

“Probably one of the worst experiences I remember when I was coach was when we lost the 2013 final to Glentoran.

“We were 1-0 up and cruising at half-time, but then we conceded in the second half and went on to lose in extra time.

“It was a painful experience, but one I learned an awful lot from. We took our eye off the ball that day. We were going for a treble but we came up short.

“Every year I kept getting reminded that we haven’t lifted the trophy since 1979, so hopefully we can maybe end that story this season.

“The cup is a major target for us, but we aim to win every game we play in – it doesn’t matter if it is a friendly or a league or cup game.”

Lyttle insists Cliftonville will not be taking their eye off the ball against minnows Sport and Leisure Swifts.

“You never take anything for granted and we certainly won’t be taking Sports and Leisure lightly,” Lyttle added.

“We have to make sure we are professional and treat this game like we would a fixture against Crusaders, Linfield or Glentoran.

“It is going to be a tricky tie so we have to be ready.”