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Work of heart

Ahead of Cliftonville’s Danske Bank Premiership encounter with Warrenpoint Town tomorrow, Barry Gray has reiterated the importance of hard work to his players.

The Reds, who got back to winning ways with last week’s 3-0 defeat of Institute, visit The Q Radio Arena just a fortnight since their last away day yielded a lacklustre display and result against Newry City – and the Manager believes this weekend’s game is an opportunity to demonstrate what lessons have been learned from that experience.

“The matches are similar in many ways,” he explains.

“We’re away from home, we’re favourites, we’re expected to win and we’re up against a team that has had things tough in the weeks leading up to the game – they’re even in similar parts of the world.

“My big criticism of our performance against Newry was the work-rate or lack of it. You’ll have off days when things don’t go your way but there’s never any excuse for not working hard. That was something we spoke about ahead of the Institute game and I couldn’t fault any of the players for their attitude in that game. Any supporters who were at both matches will have seen the difference and the players themselves saw the difference it made to our performance.

“We can play better and I believe we will get better, but it all starts with hard work. There’s no point in us going down to Newry and playing like that, responding in the right manner against Institute and then dropping back down to those levels again in Warrenpoint because the outcome will be the same.

“Regardless of where they are in the League or the form Warrenpoint are in, they have always given Cliftonville tough matches and we’re prepared for another one. We need to be focused, we need to be professional and we need to be prepared to work hard. We’ve got plenty of talent and plenty of ability, but that only counts for something when it’s accompanied by a good attitude.

“Any team that is successful in this League, even the Cliftonville teams of a few years ago, did it through hard work, hard work, hard work for 90 minutes. That’s where consistency comes from and that’s what we need to do in every single game. We improved against Institute, now let’s improve again and look to put a better run together.”