Cliftonville Football Club are delighted to announce that supporters will have a further opportunity to bid a fond farewell to Ryan Catney when Solitude hosts a Testimonial fixture in his honour next month.
The Reds will face an Irish League All-Stars side managed by Tommy Breslin on Saturday, May 18 (2pm), when a host of famous faces from past and present – including Cliftonville’s iconic back-to-back title-winning sides of 2012-14 – will convene to pay tribute to Catney’s distinguished service at the Club.
The Red Army gave the 32-year-old a rapturous ovation when he stepped off the pitch in his last home outing during the recent North Belfast Derby victory over Crusaders and will no doubt again demonstrate their appreciation for the tough-tackling midfielder when he lines out in Cliftonville colours for the final time.
Catney joined from Lisburn Distillery 12 years ago and played an integral role during the most successful era in the history of Ireland’s Oldest Football Club – as well as setting a personal landmark on the European stage.
Since making his debut in a League Cup clash with Limavady United on August 11, 2007, he has gone on to score 13 goals in 396 appearances for the Club, including the closing strike when Crusaders were beaten 4-0 in the 2013 League Cup Final.
Furthermore, he would go on to play in every decider as Cliftonville set a competition record by lifting the trophy on four consecutive occasions and also enjoyed County Antrim Shield success in 2008, 2011 and 2015.
Most significantly, of course, he was a vital member of the Reds side that was crowned Danske Bank Premiership Champions in both 2013 and 2014, during which time he formed a formidable central midfield partnership with Barry Johnston.
As well as contributing to Club history in Cliftonville’s famous Europa League victory over HNK Cibalia in 2010, he would also mark an individual milestone during this season’s encounter with Nordsjælland in the First Qualifying Round of the same competition when his appearance in the first leg at Solitude saw him reach 18 European outings for the Reds – more than any other player.
After making his Euro bow against FC Copenhagen at Mourneview Park in the summer of 2008, Catney would go on to represent Cliftonville against Cibalia (Croatia), CSKA Sofia (Bulgaria), The New Saints (Wales), Kalmar (Sweden), Celtic (Scotland), Debrecen (Hungary), Differdange (Luxembourg) and AEK Larnaca (Cyprus) before last summer’s encounter with the Danes.
He served under five Managers – Eddie Patterson, Breslin, Gerard Lyttle, Barry Gray and Paddy McLaughlin – during his time at Solitude and, despite all the on-field success, arguably best demonstrated his infectious will to win when he bravely battled back from an horrific double leg break in January 2017.
An injury that had the potential to end his career was regarded, quite simply, as another challenge he was determined to meet and, after strenuous rehabilitation in the aftermath of more than one date under the surgeon’s knife, Catney made his return to action in a pre-season friendly with Derry City last July – 17 months after breaking his leg in a North Belfast Derby with Crusaders at Seaview and just 10 days before setting that new European record against Nordsjælland.
Ninth in Cliftonville’s all-time appearances list, Catney’s first goal for the Reds came in an Irish Cup Fifth Round victory over Warrenpoint Town on January 17, 2009, while he was most recently on the scoresheet when former employers Distillery were defeated in the County Antrim Shield on September 18, 2018 – although he will no doubt be hungry to sign off with a goalscoring contribution when players, staff, officials and supporters alike convene for his Testimonial at Solitude in just under three weeks’ time.