Catney expects test as Reds commence four in-a-row bid
RYAN CATNEY already has three League Cup winners’ medals in his collection and he says winning the competition for the first time back in 2013 was the “catalyst” for Cliftonville’s recent run of success.
That win – a 4-0 victory over Crusaders – has been followed by two league titles and a County Antrim Shield win and, this season, the Reds are aiming for a record-breaking fourth consecutive triumph in the competition.
“The first year we won it sparked us off to start winning trophies,” said midfielder Catney.
“It was the catalyst, it was the monkey off our back, our first major win.”
Cliftonville begin the defence of their title on Wednesday night when they host Championship Two side Dundela at Solitude. Darren Lockhart’s ‘Duns’ go into the game on the back of a 6-0 drubbing from Harland and Wolff Welders in the Steel and Sons Cup last Saturday.
That defeat won’t have done morale in the camp any good at all, but Catney – perhaps chastened by the Reds’ 2-2 draw at Premiership strugglers Warrenpoint last Sunday – expects a tough test from the underdogs.
“We’re expected to win, but they’re going to treat it as their cup final and they’re going to come to win,” he said.
“It’s all about us having the right attitude and treating them as a Premier League team and hopefully getting the win.”
Cliftonville last met Dundela in their successful League Cup run in 2013. Joe Gormley netted a hat-trick in a 5-0 win at Solitude and there were also goals from Liam Boyce and Chris Curran (his first for the club). The Reds will be optimistic they can repeat that success on Wednesday as they are unbeaten so far this season, with four wins and a draw from their opening five league fixtures.
“If anyone had said at the start of the season that we’d have 13 points out of 15 come the end of August, we’d have snapped their hand off,” said Catney.
“It’s good and a win tomorrow [Wednesday] night would build momentum for the big game on Saturday against Crusaders. A win would set us up nicely, obviously they’re champions and we have something to prove against them I think.
“Our last couple of performances against them haven’t been great, so it should be a good game.”
Gormley scored twice in last year’s final against Ballymena United. The Sky Blues fought back to equalise, but Marty Donnelly won the cup for the Reds with a late winner. Catney feels Cliftonville have coped well with the loss of ‘Joe the goal’, whose strike rate earned him a move to Peterborough United during the summer.
“Other people have to step up to the mark,” he said.
“Obviously, Joe is one of the best, but he’s gone now – he’s gone to bigger and better things and we’ve got Jay Donnelly, Davy McDaid up top at the minute and Stevie Garrett and Marty Murray will chip in with goals. We’re not going to dwell on it. Joe is obviously going to be a miss, but life goes on.”
Having seen his former team-mate Boyce force his way into Northern Ireland’s squad for this weekend’s games against the Faroe Islands and Hungary, Catney is confident Gormley can do the same.
“Why not? He got a move to Peterborough and by, all accounts, he’s doing well over there,” he said.
“He just has to look at Liam [at Ross County], who has started off brilliantly. Boycey and Joe and Stuart Dallas has got a move to Leeds and Jordan Stewart just went to Swindon and that shows you that there is quality in the league.”
In Wednesday’s other games, Belfast’s Newington host Dungannon Swifts and Warrenpoint Town, fresh from earning their first point of the season against Cliftonville, face Lisburn Distillery at Milltown.