Cliftonville players must shoulder more responsibility to get out of rut: Ryan Catney
Tennents Irish Cup fifth round: Cliftonville v Dungannon Swifts (today, Solitude 3pm)
CLIFTONVILLE midfielder Ryan Catney believes “going that extra mile” for each other against Irish Cup opponents Dungannon Swifts this afternoon can see the Reds emerge from a devastating slump.
The north Belfast men, who reached last year’s Irish Cup decider, enter the premier cup competition on the back of a four-game losing streak where they’ve conceded a disastrous 17 goals.
And while acknowledging that Reds manager Barry Gray is under pressure to get a much-needed win, ‘Cats’ insists the players need to take more responsibility to get out of a destabilising rut.
“Barry’s working hard,” Catney said. “He’s changed formation and is tinkering with things to try to see if something else works.
“I understand he is under pressure but he sends the team out and it boils down to the players.
“I think we, as players, have to shoulder a lot of the responsibility. There are top players at this club.
“We aren’t performing individually or collectively. As players, we have to look deep into ourselves and realise that and it’s up to us to do something about that.”
Catney is a firm believer that players can always work harder – even if they think they’re giving 100 percent in games.
“We’re in a rut and the only way you get out of it is by rolling up your sleeves and Barry has said if you don’t want to, just let him know and he’ll let you go.
“But one win could turn it for us and we just need to grind it out if we have to and hopefully it’s this Saturday.”
He added: “I know we have had four defeats but in football there’s always another game. People have to realise that we are privileged to play for this club. If you think you’re working hard you can always go that extra mile for your partner, for your team, do it for somebody, for yourself.”
The Reds had notched three consecutive wins but the wheels came off when they lost 6-4 to Institute before Christmas and conceded another gut-wrenching five goals in the St Stephen’s Day derby clash with Crusaders.
They suffered back-to-back losses to Linfield (2-0) and Coleraine (4-1) that has put the spotlight on the management and players ahead of today’s cup clash.
For Catney, the worst of those four successive defeats was the 5-1 home loss to the Crues. The Reds were so poor it prompted Catney to apologise to the club’s fans on social media.
“That wasn’t a Cliftonville performance, it wasn’t what our fans demand of us. I’ve been about the club a long time and it wasn’t acceptable. I shouldered responsibility on social media because it wasn’t good enough. That was the one that hurt me the most because that’s your north Belfast rivals, it’s the bragging rights for the fans and to turn up and play the way we did was totally unacceptable.
“I’m not going to mince my words here - it was a gutless performance, myself included.”
The Swifts have plummeted to 10th place in a difficult season but they scored a morale-boosting 4-2 win over Glentoran on New Year’s Day that prompted the departure of Oval boss Ronnie McFall.
Both the Reds and Swifts clashed at Solitude at the beginning of December that saw the home side ease to a 5-1 victory.
With Gray and the players coming under fierce criticism on social media since the poor display against Institute, Catney has advised his team-mates to steer clear of what’s been written on various platforms.
“Nowadays people read a lot into social media, some players read that stuff but maybe they should take themselves out of that wee bubble and just knuckle down. Hard work beats talent and if we get working hard and get our performances up to where they should be I can’t see why we can’t turn it around
“The fans can play a massive role and I know they’re frustrated – we’re frustrated as players. They want to see the Cliftonville brand of the last few years of free-flowing, attacking football. I’m sure it isn’t pretty on the eye at the minute. We need to get the fans back through the gate because we need them. When we’re going well Solitude can be a hostile place to play for visiting teams.”
Tennents Irish Cup fifth round stats (3pm kick-off unless stated)
Larne v Newry City
LARNE are on a crest of a wave while Newry haven’t won in their last four games. Larne to shade it.
Crusaders v Glentoran
NEW boss Gary Smyth has a job on his hands reviving the Glens and they don’t look like progressing in the cup here.
Knockbreda v Strabane Athletic (1.30pm)
STRABANE have done well to reach the fifth round. Not a great draw with the home side likely to progress.
Cliftonville v Dungannon Swifts
FOR the Reds, this game has little to do with talent. It’s all about desire. The Swifts will be more stubborn than their previous visit to north Belfast last month.
Loughgall v Crumlin Star
IT wouldn’t be a shock if newly crowned Border Cup winners Crumlin Star took Loughgall’s scalp on home ground who have already lost eight Championship games this season.
Prediction: Crumlin Star
Dundela v Ballymena United
THE Wilgar Park men have home advantage and know every nook and cranny of the ‘Hen Run, but it won’t be enough to stop the Braidmen.
Prediction: Ballymena United
Coleraine v H&W Welders
THIS is a good fixture for Rodney McAree who appears to be making progress at Coleraine over the last fortnight. A home win.
Maiden City v Dergview (tie will be reversed)
DERGVIEW have home advantage here and it should be enough to progress despite being rock bottom in the Championship.
Abbey Villa v Portadown (tie will be reversed)
ABBEY Villa of the Amateur League will enjoy their trip to Shamrock Park but it’s hard to see an upset here.
Queen's University v Lisburn Distillery (1.30pm)
HIGHLY-RATED boss Peter Thompson guided Queen’s to the semi-finals in 2014. They should progress at the expense of the Whites who have slipped down the intermediate ranks.
Ards v Carrick Rangers
ARDS are playing better than their results suggests and they should edge Niall Currie’s men.
Larne Tech OB v Limavady United (tie will be reversed)
LIMAVADY might need extra-time here but should just have enough.
Glenavon v Rosemount Rec
IRISH Cup fifth round debutants Rosemount Rec have performed miracles in getting to this stage.
Institute v Warrenpoint Town
TWO teams who are playing a fine brand of football. Home advantage could swing it.
Linfield v Ballyclare Comrades
THE Comrades aren’t pulling up any trees in the Championship and are unlikely to do so at Windsor today.
Ballinamallard United v PSNI
THE ‘Mallards are three places above their Championship rivals and should nudge themselves into the next round.