Brian Neeson looks back fondly on a “class” first season with Cliftonville but is already counting down the minutes until the new campaign begins.
‘Bam’ joined from Carrick Rangers just over a year ago and played a significant role as the Reds booked their passport to Europe by overcoming Glentoran in a heart-stopping Europa League Play-Off Final last week.
“There’s been a few ups and a few downs but overall everything has been class,” says Neeson.
“The management, everything around the Club and the staff around the Club have been top class. I’ve done alright personally. I’ve had a few bad performances but more good than not. I think I finished up with 17 clean sheets over the season – which is a ratio of one-to-two. Its brings a bit of solidarity and tightness between us all and shows we definitely can do it, considering it is the first season we’ve played together.”
Though he’s looking forward to next month’s Europa League draw, the former Larne goalkeeper is still on something of a high at the dramatic nature of that late victory over the Glens.
“It was madness,” adds the 28-year-old.
“I think we fully deserved to win. At 2-0 up, we should have seen the game out, but we gave Glentoran a lifeline and they came back at us strongly. It was nice that Joe [Gormley] scored the winner in typical Cliftonville fashion.
“It’s an absolutely massive achievement to win the European place after the disappointment of the Irish Cup Final. To pick ourselves back up after how low some of the boys were – it’s hard to turn that around sometimes, especially in a four-day period. We’ve shown all year we can come back from things if we keep the head down and continue to work hard
“I can’t wait for the European games, I’ve always wanted to play in Europe,” he adds. “Coming up through football, it’s a bit of a dream. We’ll enjoy a few weeks off and see when Barry [Gray] wants us all back in to prepare and we’ll take it from there and hopefully go one better next season.”