Just over seven weeks on from helping Cliftonville end the 2017/18 season on a winning note, Garry Breen says he’s counting down the minutes until this evening’s opening friendly with Derry City (7.30pm).
The Reds welcome their fellow Europa League participants to Solitude just 10 days before facing FC Nordsjælland at the same venue and, though he and his team mates have been back in training for a number of weeks now, Breen acknowledges there’s nothing quite like lining out for action.
“All the lads have been buzzing for the first game for a while now,” he explains.
“It’s funny because I remember we were playing game after game last year and I was thinking ‘is this season ever going to end?’ and then, after a week away from it, you can’t wait to get back in and get started again.
“You always look forward to the first friendly because that’s like a little marker of being properly back at it and I’m sure all the boys are the same.”
Breen’s first season at Cliftonville included the disappointment of defeat in the Tennent’s Irish Cup Final but ended on a high when Glentoran were overcome in the Europa League Play-Off decider – a result that the 29-year-old cannot understate the value of.
“It was so important that we went into the break in a positive frame of mind and winning the Play-Offs was a big thing for us,” he adds.
“We bounced back from losing the Cup Final and it’s given us some big European games to look forward to. We’ve been working hard in training and now we’ll really step things up when he friendlies come along.”
Ahead of tonight’s game, Cliftonville Football Club confirms the departure of Shane Grimes. The former Dundalk, Monaghan and Drogheda United defender made 14 appearances after joining in January and, as well as thanking him for his efforts during the second half of last season, place on record our best wishes for the future.