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Faith like thunder for Paddy

Paddy McLaughlin has full faith that his players will give it everything they’ve got in tomorrow’s European Play-Off Final.

The Reds tackle Larne at Inver Park for the right to compete in next season’s UEFA Conference League and, while the odds are stacked in the home side’s favour, McLaughlin has seen enough from his squad this season to know he can rely on them to empty the tank one last time.

“We’ve had players who’ve put their bodies on the line time and again for us over the last number of months,” he explains.

“I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – I’ve never seen such an horrendous injury list at one Club in the same season, it’s barely believable. But then you see players busting a gut to get back and help their team-mates out and give everything for the badge.

“That’s the attitude that has got us through some tough times this season and I know they’ll be fired up to go out and perform against Larne. It’s the last match of a really long campaign and we want to go out on a high.”

Pointing to how his men recovered from a below par first-half performance to eventually dominate affairs in Tuesday’s semi-final victory over Crusaders, McLaughlin hailed the team’s resilience in the face of a stern challenge.

“It was a bruising game with high intensity and a lot of big tackles,” he adds.

“You know what Crusaders bring, they bring that physicality that can be hard to deal with at times but we stood up to the challenge really well. We’d a couple of sore bodies and it’s been all about recovery and assessing what we’ve got to work with but there’ll be no problem getting the boys fired up for it because what they did the other night – the turnaround after their first-half performance – was superb.

“It’s such an important game for the Club and the prestige of playing in Europe for the players is massive. We also understand the importance of the financial reward for the Club so there’ll be no problem getting everyone fired up for it.

“Larne are a very good footballing side, especially at home. They’re one of the most respected sides in the division with a good manager in Tiernan Lynch and a lot of top quality players, including a lot of ex-Reds men, so it’s all set up for a good game.”

Larne v Cliftonville
Tickets: None available to away supporters
Live stream: BBC Sport NI and iPlayer