IRISH CUP FINAL: Jamie Harney doesn’t care who scores as long as Cliftonville win Cup

Jamie Harney celebrates scoring three against Warrenpoint Town
Jamie Harney celebrates scoring three against Warrenpoint Town

Netting a hat-trick in a cup match can lead to legendary status for most players.

But when Jamie Harney bagged himself a treble in the fifth round tie against Warrenpoint Town earlier in this cup run he was greeted with a rather different reaction.

“Each time during the game when I scored I think there was more laughter than celebrating,” explained the defender.

“When I scored the hat-trick, all I could hear was laughing everywhere, team mates and fans!

“It was my first hat-trick and it’ll be my last!”

The Reds came out on top in the seven-goal thriller thanks to Harney’s hat-trick, and they certainly haven’t had it easy in the competition this season being paired with Linfield and Crusaders along the way.

“We have done it the hard way, but you can only play the opposition in front of you,” he said.

“It shows as a team, when we turn up, we can beat anyone and the Crusaders game showed that.

“It was a good turning point in our season, but it won’t count for anything if we don’t win the final.

“It’s all about making sure all our hard work pays off.”

Cliftonville were able to rest players last Saturday as Coleraine battled it out with Crusaders at the top of the league.

Harney is unsure how the Bannsiders will react to losing out on the Gibson Cup on the final day.

“For any team losing out on the title on the last day, it’s tough, but it could work either way,” he said.

“If I was in their situation, it would probably motivate me more, but maybe complacency could also creep in.

“But we can’t focus on them, we have to focus on our own game.

“We have to concentrate on what we can do.

“It’s a cup final and it’s who performs better on the day.

“There hasn’t been a lot between us this season, bar the game at their place early in the season when we didn’t show up and they deserved the three points.

“The other games have been very tight. There was a 0-0 at our place and the (recent 2-1 defeat was tough on us, because we were 1-0 up and they went for it near the end.

“Just knowing we have the likes of Joe, Jay and Rory and also the likes of Chris Curran, there is so much in attacking potential there.

“In my opinion, they are the best strike force in the league and they’re coming up against the best defensive unit in the league, so it could come down to whoever comes out on top.

“As a defender, we want to try and do our job and keep it nice and solid.”

Harney has fallen back in love with the game again at Solitude after a tough time as he battled back from injury.

“I had to take last year off because of a back injury and I was probably happy to get a year away from football,” he explained.

“But playing for Cliftonville has made me fall back in love with the game again.

“When I started getting a run in the team, I’ve loved every minute.

“It was the end of the 2016 season at Colchester – we had just got relegated.

“We were doing pitch runs after a game and my back went into a spasm.

“I didn’t think anything about it but in my first session back for pre-season, my back just collapsed.

“I was told I had a bulging disc in my sciatic nerve which wouldn’t fix itself.

“I was struggling to get into the team (in League Two) and there was an opportunity to go to University back home so I just made a decision to come home.

“I came home in the September, went to uni and trained once at Cliftonville in October (under Gerard Lyttle) but couldn’t get back off the sofa after returning home.

“My back went again and a specialist advised me to take a year out because it was an injury not associated with a 20-year-old.

“I was told it could be career ending if I didn’t look after it right, so I took the year out of football and thankfully it sorted itself out.

“There was a fear I wouldn’t play again, especially after it went again after training with Cliftonville in October 2016. I thought it wasn’t meant to be.

“I was still happy because I was with my family and friends, so I wasn’t in a bad place, but I knew football had to take a back seat.

“Looking back, taking a year out was probably the best thing that could happen to me.”