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Quick smart

Paddy McLaughlin underlined the importance of making a bright start to both halves in yesterday’s Danske Bank Premiership victory over Institute.

Conor McMenamin broke the deadlock in the opening minutes of the game and was also on target shortly after the turnaround ahead of Joe Gormley wrapping things up late on, with McLaughlin left delighted by his team’s application.

“Getting the early goal was a big plus because it set us on our way,” he explains.

“Sometimes the longer you go without scoring in a game like that, the more your opponents grow into it and get a foothold but to go 1-0 up early on made a big difference.

“Before the game and at half-time, we spoke about playing on the front foot and being positive and going 2-0 up just a few minutes after coming back out was perfect for us because you’re never totally comfortable with a one goal lead no matter how well you’re playing.

“I’ve been on the receiving ends of a lot of backs against the wall sort of stuff and when you’re only one goal behind, you have every chance in the world to come back and you’re reminding your players of that – something that I’m sure Sean Connor was doing with his players at half-time.

“They could have easily brought it back from a set piece or somebody hitting one out of nowhere and then they’re back in the game, so we knew we had to go and get the second and then get the third to kill it off, so I’m delighted with how we managed the game and controlled things.”

Though Gormley took many of the headlines by marking his 300th Cliftonville appearance with his 198th goal for the Club, McLaughlin was thrilled with the contribution of the man who set the Reds on course for victory.

“Conor McMenamin has a bit of class about him and we try to give him the ball as much as we can because we know his ability and he showed that with two good strikes,” he adds.

“The free-kick in particular was a bit of quality that the game probably needed. He almost completed his hat-trick late on with another one and we’re delighted to have him on board long-term with a new contract.”