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Candy coated

Six weeks on from bringing the curtain down on the 2021/22 season, Cliftonville begin preparations for the new campaign by welcoming fellow Europa Conference League entrants Derry City to Solitude tomorrow.

While the teams will share familiarity on the pitch with no fewer than six Reds players – including summer signings Ronan Hale and Gerard Storey – previously on the Candystripes’ books, there are plenty of links off it; Manager Paddy McLaughlin and First-Team Coach Marty McCann having turned out at the Brandywell during their own playing days.

This weekend’s encounter represents the 199th time Cliftonville have taken on a Derry City side, but will be only the 13th friendly between the Clubs.

Of the 12 previous non-competitive ties, the Reds have won just two, the last of which came in June 2019 when goals from Thomas Maguire and Conor McMenamin earned a 2-1 victory at the Brandywell.

The sides’ most recent meeting came in August of last year when, after leading through a superb Kris Lowe effort, the Reds conceded to Will Fitzgerald and James Akintunde before half-time and were thwarted by a combination of the woodwork and fine saves from goalkeeper Jack Lemoignan after the interval.

Cliftonville v Derry City through history
P198 W41 D27 L130 F296 A549

Friendlies only
P12 W2 D1 L9 F9 A23

March 21, 1981: Derry City 3-2 Cliftonville (McKiernan, Moffett)
April 25, 1987: Derry City 0-1 Cliftonville (Higgins)
September 10, 1991: Cliftonville 0-4 Derry City
August 11, 1993: Cliftonville 0-0 Derry City
August 1, 1998: Cliftonville 2-3 Derry City (McMahon, McCallion)*
July 31, 2001: Cliftonville 0-2 Derry City
February 7, 2006: Derry City 1-0 Cliftonville
February 8, 2014: Cliftonville 0-2 Derry City
July 2, 2018: Cliftonville 1-4 Derry City (J Donnelly)
June 14, 2019: Derry City 1-2 Cliftonville (Maguire, McMenamin)
July 21, 2020: Cliftonville 0-1 Derry City**
August 9, 2021: Cliftonville 1-2 Derry City (Lowe)

* Played at Lurgan Celtic
** Played at Crumlin United

While this game is Cliftonville’s first of the new season, it comes during an international break for the Candystripes, whose goalkeeper Brian Maher has just helped the Republic of Ireland’s Under-21 side secure a Euro 2023 Play-Off.

Domestically, Ruaidhri Higgins’ side sit third in the SSE Airtricity Premier Division just past the halfway stage.

Nine points behind Shamrock Rovers – who will provide the Reds’ opposition next weekend – Derry had led the way for long stages but approach tomorrow’s trip to Belfast without a win in their last six outings and will be using the game to fine-tune things ahead of their return to action against Drogheda United next Friday.

Cash turnstiles
Adults: £5
Concessions: £3