Cliftonville: Irish Premiership Champions 2012/13

 

CLIFTONVILLE clinched the Irish League Premiership title on Saturday thanks to a dramatic last-minute win over rivals Linfield.

We have landed only our third league title in our 135 year history – and what a way to win it.

Club legend George McMullan stepped up to slot home the 92 minute penalty winner to record a 3-2 victory and secure the Gibson Cup for the Solitude side.

It is a remarkable achievement for the club, which has been run by members for the last 10 years.

Cliftonville celebrate at Solitude

The team have been phenomenal all season, as manager Tommy Breslin and his backroom staff have put together a talented squad.

The consistency and communication between the back line has been vital to our success this season.

Goalkeeper Conor Devlin has been the best in the league, protected by the superb new central defensive pairing of Jaimie McGovern and Marc Smyth.

At left-back, Ronan Scannell has enjoyed a remarkable revival this season and Eamonn Seydak has been a more than capable replacement when called upon.

McMullan has filled in brilliantly at right-back, and young Tomas Cosgrove has shown we have a future star in that position with some fine cameo performances.

For me, central midfield was largely where the league was won for us, thanks to the form of Ryan Catney and Barry Johnston.

The pair are classic box-to-box midfielders and have dominated big games all year long with their energy, drive and sheer desire to win.

But their skill on the ball should not be overlooked, as they have kept it simple at all times and allowed our forward players to flourish.

On either wing, we have had the luxury of enjoying a combination of creative talents who all bring something different to the team.

Stephen Garrett’s blistering pace, Diarmuid O’Carroll’s strength on the ball, Ciaran Caldwell’s technical ability and Martin Donnelly’s wing trickery have all added to the team’s style.

The undeniable goalscoring talents of Liam Boyce (34 goals) and Joe Gormley (29 goals) speak for themselves.

Contributions from the likes of Barry Holland, James Knowles, Ryan Brown, Dermot McVeigh and Jody Lynch over the course of the season cannot be overlooked.

And a mention should also go to two of the club’s great characters who have unfortunately been injured this season: club captain Chris Scannell and Ciaran Donaghy.

The team spirit amongst the group is incredible and that camaraderie has massively driven the squad on this season.

Off the pitch, the league title has been celebrated by the people who helped make it happen: the board and the members.

Every member, every volunteer, every supporter and every single person who has given up any of their free time to help the Cliftonville cause has the right to feel part of the triumph.

Now – with the League Cup already won – we look forward to the Irish Cup Final on Saturday May 4, and the chance to complete a historic treble.

As McMullan said after scoring that winning penalty: “You talk about football, you talk about dreams – that’s something I’ve dreamed about for a long time and now it’s come true.”

And there is no reason for the Belfast club to stop dreaming now with such a bright future ahead.

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