Back in the day: in The Irish News on Feb 4 1997: Cup victory and league safety balancing act facing Cliftonville boss Marty Quinn
CUP victory and league safety is the balancing act facing Cliftonville manager Marty Quinn.
And although he concedes the league is his top priority, no one can doubt how much this evening’s Calor County Antrim Shield final with Ballymena means to both manager and club.
“I think most people at the club would swap a cup win for some vital league points, but winning tonight would certainly give the lads a lot of confidence for the rest of the season,” said Quinn.
With last season’s historic Coca Cola Cup win under their belts, Cliftonville do not have to carry the burden of a 15-year cup drought going into a final this time around.
And although currently bottom of the premier division while Ballymena are clear leaders of the first, Quinn still believes Cliftonville can win their second trophy in as many seasons.
“We have no divine right to win this final but I am quietly confident that we can do just that - provided we play a lot better than we did on Saturday,” he said.
A 2-0 defeat at home to Crusaders was hardly ideal preparation for this evening, but the Reds will be strengthened by the return of Shaun Strang, Paul Stokes and Stephen Small from one-match suspensions.
With Quinn hinting that a few changes can be expected from Saturday's team.
DERRY’S delight at their fine league win over Kildare on Sunday was tempered by injury blows to forward Gary McGill and defender Emmett McKeever.
The hard-working McGill dislocated his shoulder with aggravated damage to ligaments and is expected to be out of action for at least a month.
McGill shipped some heavy knocks during the two-point win over Mick O’Dwyer’s side.
Kildare centre-back Glen Ryan was reportedly fortunate to escape with only a booking after a high-tackle on the Glen man.
McGill was replaced before the end by Seamus Downey.
It’s the second serious injury blow from McGill in less than 12 months.
The forward sustained a broken jaw in a Derry club championships game against Swatragh last year which ruled him out of the Ulster Championship.
Meanwhile Emmett McKeever, a brother of Railway Cup player Kieran, sustained bruised ribs in Sunday’s match.
McKeever has been one of the finds of the current league campaign.
His performances have suggested he will join his brother in the full-back line when Derry begin the championship bid with a tie against Monaghan on June 1.
SOUTHAMPTON midfielder Jim Magilton has been recalled to the Northern Ireland squad for next Tuesday’s friendly international against Belgium in Belfast.
The west Belfast man, who hasn’t played for the north since the 1-1 draw with Germany in Belfast last May, has been named in a 20-man squad for the clash with the struggling Belgians.
Magilton has been out of favour in recent internationals and after a late call-up to the squad for the match in Italy, had to pull out of Bryan Hamilton’s panel because of injury.
The other big talking point is the exclusion of West Ham full-back Keith Rowland.
Wolves midfielder Robbie Dennison, a late addition for the Palermo match, has also been omitted. Keith Gillespie returns after missing the Italy game through injury.