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Trick of delight for boss

Paddy McLaughlin believes Michael McCrudden got the rewards his attitude deserved when he registered a hat-trick in Cliftonville’s 5-0 victory over Warrenpoint Town yesterday.

The striker opened the scoring with a sweet left-footed shot after just eight minutes at Milltown and, after Ryan Curran had dispatched a penalty, two close-range finishes either side of the half-time break sealed McCrudden’s treble, with Daire O’Connor wrapping things up with a well-executed lob.

McLaughlin was delighted to see McCrudden emerge with the matchball after making his first start since the 1-1 draw with Glenavon on January 30.

“Michael has been key to a lot of good that we’ve done,” said the Manager.

“Sometimes when players don’t play and they feel they should be playing, they sulk. It’s a natural reaction to sulk and you can almost be a man down in matches or in training because they huff. I’ve seen it happen in other Clubs but not in this team.

“Michael is the first man to congratulate goalscorers, he’s the first man to encourage the team and he’s the first man to fight their corner when things aren’t going their way on the pitch.

“He’s a brilliant man to have in the changing room, so for him to come into the team when he was called upon and to back it up with a hat-trick and a Man of the Match performance, I’m delighted for him.”

Though McCrudden’s heroics naturally stole the limelight, McLaughlin was effusive in his praise for every player involved.

“It was a great performance from the entire team, including the three subs,” he added.

“Our centre-backs won their headers, the full-backs stopped the crosses going in, Liam Bagnall and Rory Hale were non-stop in the middle of the park, Chris Curran and Daire were tireless driving us forward and the Ryan and Michael got themselves on the scoresheet. Aaron McCarey didn’t have a lot to do but he did it well to get his clean sheet and it’s a great result for us at a venue where Warrenpoint make things very, very tough for teams.

“We’ll enjoy the three points but Tuesday night’s game against Dungannon won’t be long in coming round, so it’s full focus on that for us now.”