Big-game Conor McMenamin hoping for another day as Cliftontonville’s man for the main stage

Conor McMenamin has been counting down for the chance to add another big-game contribution to his Reds highlight reel.

Cliftonville's Conor McMenamin. Pic by Pacemaker.
Cliftonville's Conor McMenamin. Pic by Pacemaker.

The Cliftonville ace can draw past pride from high-profile goals in Europa League, European play-off and Danske Bank Premiership fixtures.

Now he wants to be the main man on the main stage once again for Cliftonville with a semi-final strike in the Irish Cup.

“I’ve done well in big games for Cliftonville and take confidence from having scored goals in the European play-offs, Europa League and Boxing Day,” said McMenamin last week heading into a test with Glentoran. “I seem to buzz off big games and feel this squad is going in the right direction, hopefully winning the County Antrim Shield final marks the start of it for us as you get judged on trophies.

“It’s obviously a shame no-one will be cheering us on for the semi-final, especially things like the extra drive the fans can give you when the legs get tired in the closing stages.

“But that doesn’t take away from the excitement and I’m counting down to next week...I wish the match was today.

“Once matchday comes around, no matter what we need to do in advance, the focus is going to be on that first whistle.

“We know just what the Irish Cup means to the fans and people around the club but Paddy McLaughlin has made it clear the semi-final must be our only goal.

“It’s going to be a tough game against Glentoran.

“On a personal level, this has been my best season in terms of numbers of goals and assists.

“I signed a contract extension at Cliftonville as I want to spend my best years at this club playing under a manager who believes in me, along with the staff.

“Paddy shows faith in me so I want to repay that and you look around our squad and I’ve no doubt we can challenge for trophies together.

“Both teams are going into the semi-final having to deal with the same protocols and arrangements on the day.

“Of course it’s not the same as playing in front of a big semi-final crowd.

“We’ve played a few friendlies on top of the return to training but, really, no-one can predict how everyone will react until the actual game.

“During lockdown we kept in touch as much as possible and after coming back in for training you could see the lads were in good shape.

“There’s real trust within the squad and we can take positives thinking back to our results and performances over the season.”

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