Ryan Curran says that, once the equaliser went in, he always felt Cliftonville could win last night’s County Antrim Shield Final in 90 minutes – but only because he didn’t realise quite how late the leveller had come.
Thomas Maguire pounced to make it 1-1 six minutes into injury-time, with Curran completing the turnaround with an ice-cool finish just 85 seconds later as the Reds became the first Irish League side to get to grips with silverware this decade.
“I saw the board going up saying there’d be seven extra minutes, so I knew we still had time but we had to get a move on,” he recalls.
“When Thomas scored, I thought it was the first couple of minutes of injury-time so I still thought we could go on to get the winner because momentum is such a big thing in football. I’d no idea it was the 96th minute and that there was so little time left, but obviously it was a great feeling to get our second goal so soon afterwards.”
While it was a problem everyone of a Cliftonville persuasion would have been happy to contemplate with 95 minutes on the clock, the nature of the attacking substitutions made by Paddy McLaughlin meant that the Reds faced the prospect of heading into Extra Time with a host of players operating out of position – a situation Curran was more than happy to resolve.
“I’ve no idea what Paddy would have done,” he adds.
“We ended the game with me and Ronan Doherty in the centre of the park and I’m not sure I’ve played there since Under 15s. Then obviously you’ve Joe Gormley, Ruaidhri (Donnelly), wee Thomas and Conor McMenamin going forward, so it would have been interesting to see how we would have set up in Extra Time.
“Thankfully it didn’t come to that and we weren’t happy to just take the draw in 90 minutes. We stayed positive and tried to win it and I don’t really remember too much about my goal – I don’t know if it hit Ruaidhri and came out to me or maybe it hit off Jonny Addis and came my way, I’ve no idea. Even the finish was better than I remember, I thought it had been a bit of a goalmouth scramble and I’d managed to get it over the line but when I saw the video, it was completely different to what I remember!”
And on his Man of the Match award, the 68th minute substitute concludes: “I thought someone was taking the mickey out of me! I’m not sure how big (Adam) Lecky didn’t win it, he was unplayable, but I’m happy to take it, I’ll not complain.”