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Irish News Past Papers - Dec 29 1998: Marty Quinn reflects on a dramatic title-winning season

Marty Quinn and his Cliftonville squad celebrate in the dressing room after the club won the Irish League title for the first time in 88 years
The Irish News Archive

Irish Soccer Review 1998

A DISAPPOINTING start to the 1997/98 season gave little cause for optimism in the Cliftonville dressing room. Nine months and a nerve-wracking April afternoon at Solitude later Marty Quinn’s men were celebrating the first league triumph in 88 years....

Reflecting on a dramatic season, there was an occasion when Marty Quinn almost lost it. He nearly choked on his words while puffing a fag in a Belfast hotel.

He finds it hard to describe the personal feeling of being the first Cliftonville manager to guide the club to league championship glory for 88 years.

He refuses to accept that someday, whether he be sitting in his retirement chair or playing football in the sky, Marty Quinn will become legend.

“I’m only doing a job, that’s how I see it. My job is to win trophies for Cliftonville Football Club, to win the Irish League.

“We have won the league but the job goes on. I want to win again and again,” he said.

On the opening day of the 1997/98 season, one Cliftonville ‘supporter’ could be heard chastising Marty Quinn and his team.

“Quinner, get them off, a shower of crap.”

Cliftonville were trailing 1-0 in the League Cup to B Division champions Chimney Corner.

Quinn had little or no reason to greet optimism.

 

A jubilant Cliftonville supporter celebrates in style after his club won the Irish League title for the first time in 88 years

 

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DISCIPLINE on the football pitches of Tyrone has shown a marked improvement in the past season.

The total number of suspensions imposed during 1998 was less than half that of two years ago, and well down on the figure for last year. In 1996 a staggering 345 suspensions were handed down.

A year later the figure had dropped to 230, and in the season just ended, the final tally was a modest 150. And Drumragh have emerged as the most sporting club in the county, winning not only the Division Three Disciplinary League but the overall title as well.

The Division One winners were Clonoe, whose senior and reserve teams amassed a total of just 55 penalty points over the entire season.

Their achievement is all the more laudable when it is considered that a caution carries a punishment of five points, while a one-month suspension merits 20 points, right up to an imposition of 100 points for a six month ban. Errigal Ciaran finished second in the disciplinary table on 110 points, well behind the winners, with Moortown, Dromore and Cookstown filling the next three places.

The Division Two winners were Moy on 75 points, with Loughmacrory (85 points) in runner up position.

And Drumragh picked up just 35 disciplinary points on their way to the Division Three title ahead of Greencastle on 50 points. The top three in the overall table were Drumragh, Greencastle and Owen Roe O’Neills, all from Division Three.

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ISLANDMAGEE bridged a 35-year gap to win the Smithwick’s Amateur League’s Border Cup with a 3-1 victory over Killyleagh YC yesterday.

The Islanders bounced back from a goal down after just 13 minutes to make it a memorable Christmas for new manager Ivor McGucken in only his second game in charge.

A packed Wilgar Park saw Killyleagh seize the early initiative with full-back Colin Murray blasting against the post in the 12th minute.

A minute later his quick throw in provided an opening which Mark Holland took full advantage of to slam past Craig McMahon.

But Islandmagee rallied and a 25-yard thunderbolt from George Lynn hit the net.

Then Rodgers headed powerfully home after Robson lost the flight of Moore’s corner-kick to give the Island the lead.

They put the final out of Killyleagh’s reach three minutes into injury time when lively substitute Philip Thompson latched on to Murray’s short back pass to make it 3-1.

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