Cliftonville win the Irish Cup: Reaction from the Reds camp

Photo shows Cliftonville players celebrating winning with the the cup
Cliftonville players celebrate winning with the the cup -Credit:INPHO/Stephen Hamilton

Cliftonville lifted the Irish Cup for the first time in 45 years on Saturday, and manager Jim Magilton has promised to celebrate "long into the night".

The Reds came from behind to beat Linfield 3-1 at Windsor Park, with Ronan Hale scoring twice in extra-time to send the North Belfast side into dreamland.

It has proved a hugely successful debut season for Magilton, whose side finished third in the Irish Premiership and qualified for Europe.

Read more: Cliftonville 3 Linfield 1 (AET): The Irish Cup final as it happened

Read more: Irish Cup Final player ratings as Cliftonville fight back to claim historic win

And now they have the elusive Irish Cup trophy to take home.

Here's what some of the key protagonists had to say after the game.

Jim Magilton

Photo shows Cliftonville manager Jim Magilton
Cliftonville manager Jim Magilton -Credit:INPHO/Johnathan Porter

The Reds boss told the BBC: "You talk about effort, pride, determination, playing against all the odds. We lost our goalkeeper and centre half, two players who have been unbelievable for us this season. Then we go a goal behind and have it all to do. What can you say about a group of players. I am immensely pride.

"I'm glad people thought it was a great game. It didn't feel like a great game to me, to be honest. I have to add that David Healy was magnanimous in defeat, and his players were as well. It is tough losing a final, but they were so gracious and I appreciate that.

"But the day belongs to us, the fans, the players. It is monumental. To do what we did, it is just crazy."

Magilton admits he never expected to lift the Irish Cup in his first season in charge. He said: "When the third goal goes in it is a sigh of relief. It is such an emotional rollercoaster. That's what this game brings, and we are going to celebrate into the early hours for all it's worth.

"When I came here and I probably didn't think I'd win an Irish Cup in my first season. But I am very determined and ambitious. I knew the group of players could deliver and they have been so good. I can't thank my staff enough. They have been unbelievable.

"It has been a pleasure."

Rory Hale

Photo shows Cliftonville’s Rory Hale and Ronan Hale after winning the the cup
Cliftonville’s Rory Hale and Ronan Hale celebrate winning with the the cup -Credit:INPHO/Stephen Hamilton

Man of the match Hale said: "It is amazing. What a brilliant day. Look at the crowd today. They gave us an extra push, especially when we were dropping like flies in extra-time. It lifted the boys, outstanding.

"Linfield didn't make it easy, that's why they're up there as one of the best teams in the country. I always say if you finish above them then you win the league. We knew it would be tough and we were underdogs. But we had a good game plan from Jim and it paid off."

Hale also praised brother Ronan on his two-goal salvo which won the cup, adding: "I thought he would have pipped me to the man of the match. He was outstanding and led the line brilliantly. His first goal was sensational, out of nothing."

Ronan Hale

Photo showing Cliftonville’s Ronan Hale celebrating
Cliftonville’s Ronan Hale celebrates -Credit:INPHO/Stephen Hamilton

Ronan Hale says the main thing was lifting the cup on Saturday, not scoring the winning goals. He told the Beeb: "I don't mind about the goals. I said today I didn't care if I didn't score, as long as we won that cup. And boy, did we do it the hard way. And I can't wait to celebrate it. We knew it would take everything. Linfield are a great team and they put it up to us. But there was a buzz this year and we knew it would be our year.

"All of my family is in the stand over there. I just brought my daughter onto the pitch there. Rory and I are boyhood Cliftonville fans. We went to every game back in the day, and now we are playing for them and winning the Irish Cup. It is unbelievable."

Reflecting on his first goal, a superb right-foot strike in the first minute of extra-time, Hale said: "I was very frustrated I hadn't had a chance in the game, and I felt when it came onto my right foot there was no stopping it. I knew what I wanted to do and I executed it."

Hale's second goal was a breakaway effort in stoppage time, the striker racing clear from inside his own half to tap into an empty net.

He added: "Ben (Wilson) did magnificent for the second goal and it was a long run. I didn't know if my legs were going to last, but I am. buzzing.

"It is third time lucky. I lost it in 2021 against Linfield with Larne, and I didn't play in the final with Crusaders. I have done all the hard work and I think I deserve to get my hands on it this time.

"It is a massive week. My second daughter will be born next week. Just avoided it today, thankfully."

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