Conor McMenamin’s early strike ensured the Paddy McLaughlin era got off to a winning start at Solitude this afternoon.
McMenamin stroked Cliftonville into a fourth minute lead against Newry City and, though the Reds’ clean sheet ensured that a single goal was enough for three points, the hosts were unfortunate not to add to their advantage on a number of occasions.
Niall Grace, a recent loan arrival from Glenavon, played Joe Gormley through after a quarter-of-an-hour but his shot ended up in the side netting while a Chris Curran effort went just wide of the far post soon after.
Newry threatened after half-an-hour when Stephen Hughes found Mark McCabe down the right but his potentially dangerous delivery into the area was cleared by Jamie Harney just minutes before Garry Breen thundered a volley over the top at the other end.
Gormley then had another chance on 41 minutes when he held off the attentions of John Boyle before testing Steven Maguire with a powerful shot which the Newry keeper did well to hold.
After the break Joe Gorman poked the ball just wide on 54 minutes while Gormley did have the ball in the net before the hour but his finish into the bottom corner fell foul of the offside rule.
Harney was unlucky on 73 minutes with a header from Aaron Harkin’s cross only for the ball to come off Darren King and over the bar before Newry almost snatched a point when Darragh Noonan headed just wide from Alan Teggart’s curling delivery.
Cliftonville: Brush, Breen, Grace, Harney, C Curran, R Donnelly, A Harkin, McConnell, Gormley, McMenamin, Gorman. Subs: Neeson, McGovern (for Gormley, 88 mins), R Curran (for McConnell, 73 mins), Garrett, Catney (for Harkin, 79 mins), Lavery, A Donnelly