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Paddy presses play button

Paddy McLaughlin has echoed Ballymena United boss David Jeffrey’s assertion that teams and Managers should prioritise playing matches over number crunching.

Ahead of tonight’s Danske Bank Premiership encounter between the sides at The Showgrounds and amid ongoing talk about how the fixture list could be impacted by the Sadler’s Peaky Blinder Irish Cup, McLaughlin agrees with Jeffrey’s insistence that, a year on from the Covid-19 pandemic freezing football out completely, the relentness nature of the current programme is to be enjoyed.

“We’ll just play whatever amount of games we’re told,” he explains.

“If they say it’ll be 33, then we’ll play 33. If they say 38, then we’ll play 38. It’s a demanding schedule and it’s tough on players in what is predominantly a part-time League but we’ll not complain, we’ll just get on with it.

“However they go about it, we’ll let the powers that be decide that and we’ll just deal with it as it comes.”

Tonight’s opponents are, of course, familiar foes to Cliftonville, who battled to a hard-earned 2-1 win over the Sky Blues at Solitude just seven days ago – and McLaughlin expects this evening’s encounter to be just as keenly contested.

“Ballymena are a team full of good players and one of the best Managers that’s ever been in the Irish League, so they’re always going to be a force and it’ll be no different tonight,” he adds.

“They made it difficult for us last week, it was a really tough game with not much in it and we’ve scored the winner late on. I think this will be another tough, tight affair and we’ve tried to wrap the players up in cotton wool since Saturday to get ready to go again.”