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Don the power of good

Brian Donaghey had full faith that Cliftonville would emerge triumphant from the Europa League Play-Offs despite their poor finish to the Danske Bank Premiership campaign.

The Reds signed off from League duty with heavy defeats to Linfield and Glenavon on days when experienced players were rested and rotated to avoid injuries or suspensions that would rule them out of the Play-Offs.

Fears that a loss of positive momentum would cost Cliftonville dearly looked justified when the team found themselves 3-1 down with 14 minutes of their Semi Final with Coleraine remaining.

Backed by a passionate home support, however, the Reds rallied and retrieved the situation before digging deep to see off Glentoran in last week’s decider – just as Donaghey always believed they would.

“The players have been great from the moment we came in to the Club,” says the Assistant Manager.

“You never want to lose any match and we were disappointed with the Linfield and Glenavon results but I think everyone knew there were reasons for the way we played in those games. Certain players were taken out to protect them ahead of the Play-Offs and it was important they were looked after.

“When you have bigger games coming up, sometimes that can really affect the way you play, especially when you make so many changes and disrupt the flow. But once it came down to it and had their game heads on, I knew they would go out and perform.

“When it’s mattered and when the players have been needed to step up and get a big result over the last few months, they have done it.”