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Tough one to take: Harney

Jamie Harney says Cliftonville gave yesterday’s European Play-Off Final their best shot and has insisted the team will bounce back from the disappointment of their defeat to Larne.

The Reds had looked primed to perform a come-from-behind triumph at Inver Park when a stunning Daire O’Connor strike cancelled out Davy McDaid’s opener with just over half an hour left on the clock.

Despite taking a firm grip on proceedings at the start of the second-half, Cliftonville fell behind against the run of play when Lee Lynch restored the hosts’ advantage ahead of McDaid sealing the deal late on.

“It’s devastating when you’ve given so much,” said Harney afterwards.

“We’ve gone through the season with a lot of lows and, coming in at half-time, the changing room was very positive and you’re thinking ‘right, we’ve played some good stuff, let’s go out and give it everything, we’ve nothing to lose’ and I think our performance showed that.

“Every single player gave it everything they had as did all the coaching staff and every member associated with Cliftonville. Nobody gave us a chance going into the game but the only thing we can do is go again.”

Yesterday’s encounter was the 45th and final outing of a bruising season that started way back at the beginning of October and Harney paid credit to his team-mates for their efforts throughout a gruelling campaign.

“It was a difficult season for everyone,” he added. “I don’t want to use excuses – that’s not our way – but we’ve had our injuries and our knocks but we’ve always bounced back through difficult times. After January, we really came on strong and have even had tough times through that but to put in the performance that we did against Larne – especially in that 20 minutes at the start of the second-half – means it’s a tough one for us to swallow right now.

“Since I’ve been at the Club, we’ve won all the Play-Offs we’ve been involved in and always had enough to get over the line but it wasn’t enough this time. Larne did well, there’s no two ways about it, and I want to say congratulations to them. I know we gave it everything we could.”