Paddy McLaughlin was delighted to see Cliftonville mix style with substance in yesterday’s Danske Bank Premiership defeat of Larne.
Goals from Rory Hale either side of a Davy McDaid equaliser earned the Reds all three points at a raucous Solitude, where the Manager toasted fine performances from both teams.
“It was two really good football sides, I’m sure it was entertaining,” said McLaughlin of the fare served up for the fans.
“It was lively right throughout, both sides got the ball down and played the right way. Both sets of players were excellent.
“Larne are brilliant on the ball. You know what you’re going to get when you play them so you’ve got to keep your shape really well and I thought we were excellent at that.
“All in all, it was a good performance and a brilliant result because Larne are title contenders. No doubt about it, they’ll be up there challenging to win the League at the end of the season so to get a result against them on the back of a good performance, we’re delighted.”
McLaughlin paid credit to every single player for the commitment they produced over the course of an absorbing contest and, while Hale naturally took the headlines on a day that saw Jonny Addis cement his position as a firm favourite among the Red Army, the boss pointed to Jamie McDonagh’s contribution as an example of the selfless approach Cliftonville’s team ethic demands.
“Jamie worked his b- no I can’t say that, he worked his socks off,” smiled McLaughlin.
“When you play in the position he does, sometimes you get frustrated with not getting on the ball and not delivering the inch-perfect pass every time, but what about the shift he put in? He covered an unbelievable amount of ground.
“The boys were telling him at half-time ‘the big moment will come, are you good enough to deliver?’ and there’s your answer – he’s dropped the ball on Rory’s head for the second goal and that’s what he’s about. He’ll work hard for the team throughout and when the big moments come, he’ll always take them.
“It’s not just about every delivery being on the money, great finishes and great balls into the box, it’s all about hard work as well. In the 90th minute of the game, there he is chasing after people and throwing himself into a tackle which is probably something he doesn’t get recognised for but, again, every player in the squad’s like that.”
One down side from Cliftonville’s point of view was the first-half injury that forced Levi Ives out of the action and, while McLaughlin was relieved to confirm the defender had not suffered a repeat of the metatarsal complaint that kept him sidelined for the best part of two years, he admitted the Club and player face a nervy wait to determine the extent of the problem.
“When you see somebody leaving the ground on crutches, it’s worrying but he’s a hard, hard boy and there’s one thing about him – if his ankle’s not falling off, he’ll be back on the training pitch on Monday night,” he added.
“The next couple of days will be crucial to see what the damage is and hopefully it’s not too bad but it’s definitely a concern when you see him leaving on crutches.
“It wasn’t the metatarsal again so we’re glad of that, touch wood. We think it’s ligaments but hopefully they’re not too bad.”