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Womens Premiership


28 Sep 2021

Cliftonville Ladies boss John McGrady is urging his players to go out and ‘enjoy the occasion’ against Glentoran Women in their crucial league match on Wednesday.

The Reds trail the Glens courtesy of their inferior head-to-head record in the Danske Bank Women’s Premiership and need to win in East Belfast to keep the destiny of this season's title in their own hands going into the final day while a defeat would see the hosts retain their crown.

Victory on Wednesday night would ensure McGrady’s side need only a point on the final day of the season at home to Sion Swifts Ladies next week to clinch the title.

The Reds have collected an impressive 46 points from their 18 league matches to date but know a win at the Glens - in a game which will be broadcast on BBC Sport - is now required to ensure they lead the way on the final day, when they will play Sion as Glentoran take on Derry City.

McGrady explained: “The message is to go out and enjoy the occasion.

“We only ever have thought about the next game but this is a game which will be broadcast live and the players will be interviewed about, you have to enjoy that.

“There is a really good mood about the squad and especially with the girls who have returned from international duty.

“It is far easier to manage when the players are in good form, winning games and happy.

“The players manage themselves a lot of the time and they have a great team spirit, so it makes my job that much easier.

“Some footballers go through an entire career without being involved in a title race so this is something you have to savour and allow it to make you hungry for more.”

The Reds must win by five goals or more to secure the league title on Wednesday - as it would move them three points ahead of Glentoran while also securing a superior head-to-head record.

That outcome is improbable with McGrady’s side instead focusing on edging the Glens out on the night and putting them to within a solitary point of title glory.

“At the start of the season we would have snapped your hand off for the situation we find ourselves in,” the boss added.

“Regardless of what happens over the next few games, we have had a really strong season.

“This is exciting because this is a building project, it was not about the success or otherwise this season - this is about building a sustainable team who can challenge for all the trophies.

“The board is already planning to meet to talk about how to sustain this and push it forward.

“I’m excited to see how we can build on this even further.”

Linfield and Glentoran have dominated the women’s game in Northern Ireland in recent years with Crusaders Strikers and Sion Swifts among the regular challengers.

Cliftonville are now establishing themselves as a major player and regardless of the outcome of this season’s title, they are here to stay.

McGrady continued: “It’s not just the results on the pitch this season that have improved but everything around the club - the social media coverage, the exposure, the mentality - everything.

“The crowds are getting bigger with new fans coming into games throughout the season and when I attend the men’s first team games, every week there are lots of fans talking to me about the women’s team - they’re actively following it.

“The entire club and fanbase is behind us - that means the world to the players and everyone else involved with the team, it is what we wanted to happen.

“The main aim was to bring the club together and that has been the big success of this season.”