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Rock of ages

Cliftonville’s preparations for the new campaign continue when a Shamrock Rovers XI visits Solitude tomorrow.

The Reds’ pre-season programme kicked off last weekend with the Club’s 199th meeting with a Derry City side, however clashes with Rovers have been much less frequent through history.

Indeed, this upcoming tie will be just the 16th time Cliftonville have locked horns with the Tallaght outfit, who currently sit eight points clear at the top of the SSE Airtricity Premier Division table and return to League action with a trip to second-placed Dundalk this evening.

Cliftonville v Shamrock Rovers through history
P15 W2 D2 L11 F12 A34

Friendlies only
P6 W0 D1 L5 F3 A14

Tomorrow’s game represents the Clubs’ first clash in Belfast for more than a decade; Barry Johnston and Joe Gormley earning the Reds a 2-0 victory in a Setanta Sports Cup quarter-final joust that the visitors – then managed by current Republic of Ireland boss Stephen Kenny – won after a penalty shootout.

The teams’ most recent encounter came in a behind-closed-doors training match in July 2020, which Rovers won 3-0, while an injury-time strike earned the Hoops a 1-0 success in a February 2017 friendly.

Though the fixture never materialised, the Clubs’ paths were on course to cross in the qualifying stages of the Europa League in 2018.

Had the Reds overcome Nordsjælland, they would have faced the winners of the Shamrock Rovers-AIK tie and, while both Irish Clubs led the second legs of their respective games for a spell, it was the Scandinavians who progressed; Danish outfit Nordsjælland getting the better of the Swedes 2-0 on aggregate.

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