Barry Gray said he was pleased with every single player’s contribution to Cliftonville’s comprehensive defeat of Dungannon Swifts yesterday.
During what the Manager said “might be the best I’ve seen from us in my time here”, the Reds’ response to Jamie Harney’s fifth minute own goal was emphatic, with Rory Donnelly, Chris Curran and Joe Gormley all on target before the interval.
After the break, Donnelly and Gormley each doubled their own personal tallies and came close to instigating a fight for the matchball as Cliftonville hit back from a disappointing week that had yielded three defeats – including a League Cup Quarter Final exit at the hands of the Swifts.
“Our focus, desire, energy, work-rate and everything else were first class,” says Gray.
“It was a real team effort but, the own goal aside, we defended resolutely. We reacted well to going behind, we were good in midfield, I thought Ryan Catney was excellent, Chris Curran and Caoimhin McConnell were on top of everything and, nevermind their goals, the off-the-ball work out of Joe and Rory up front was phenomenal. People will talk about the goals they scored but the shift they put in was fantastic and I think any team with any defence would hate to come up against those two when they’re in that sort of mood.
“I shouldn’t be naming names because there’s not a single player I can challenge about their performance. Everyone who started and every sub who came on did very well. We played the way our supporters want to see us play and I’m sure they enjoyed that.
“It was also nice to make three substitutions when none of them were enforced. I was able to give a few people a rest and give a few more some minutes without having the decisions made for me by injuries, so that was another plus – and a rare one at that. Getting Ruairi Harkin on to the pitch was great for him and it was nice to be able to bring Rory Donnelly off and allow him to get that ovation from the fans because he deserved it after playing like that.”