O’Carroll out to make his mark for Reds

Stephen Garrett
Stephen Garrett

Diarmuid O’Carroll insists he still has a big part to play as Cliftonville chase a second successive title triumph.

The striker was handed a rare start against Dungannon Swifts and responded with a crucial goal to help send the Reds back to the top of the table.

O’Carroll’s equaliser plus a late Stephen Garrett strike secured a crucial three points – despite the enforced absence of their two leading scorers.

While Joe Gormley and Liam Boyce sat out the game because of suspension, O’Carroll and Garrett took their chance to remind boss Tommy Breslin of his options up front.

O’Carroll said he is hoping to play a bigger role in the closing months of the campaign.

“Obviously I’m disappointed because today is only the eighth game I’ve played,” he said.

“The two boys (Gormley and Boyce) are top players and the manager is going to pick them whenever they are fit.

“Unfortunately that means I’m generally missing out.

“I just need to play well when I get an opportunity and see where it takes me.

“Gormley and Boyce have done really well so I can’t be expected to walk back in, but I’d still hope to play a big part in the final few weeks.

“I played out wide a lot last season but as a player you are looking for any way you can get in a team, especially one that is winning trophies.”

Between them Boyce and Gormley have 38 league goals this season, and at times it seemed Cliftonville missed that clinical edge, especially in a goalless first half.

Martin Donnelly’s early chip came back off the crossbar, a curling effort from Chris Curran crept wide while Martin Murray sent a header narrowly off target.

And those misses were punished when Dungannon took a 48th minute lead, Chris Lavery converting at the second attempt following a cross from Kris Lowe.

However, the lead lasted just eight minutes with O’Carroll quickly equalising, prodding home a right-foot finish from a Curran cross.

They snatched the points three minutes from the end when a corner wasn’t cleared, and Garrett stabbed home at the second attempt.

“It was a massive win for us,” added O’Carroll.

“It’s always tough down here and the conditions weren’t ideal, but if you want to win leagues you have to come to places like this and win.”