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Sub story for Paddy

Paddy McLaughlin was delighted with the impact Cliftonville’s substitutes made in yesterday’s stirring comeback against Glenavon, but says the players they replaced have no need to reproach themselves.

The Reds fell behind when Josh Doyle capitalised on an error from goalkeeper Declan Dunne at the start of the second-half and that looked set to earn the visitors all three points until sub Chris Curran set namesake Ryan up for two strikes in a minute to turn the tie on its head.

After what was arguably Cliftonville’s least impressive display of the season, McLaughlin saluted his team’s dedication and determination in the face of increasing adversity as the clock ticked down.

“Without being at our best, it was a gritty oul performance,” was his analysis.

“Glenavon were well set up, they worked hard and did everything their Manager would have asked of them and made it really difficult for us to build up any kind of momentum throughout the game.

“On the flip side of that, you have to give our boys credit as well because when a team does that to you and you still produce a win, it’s a brilliant trait to have in your locker.

“Fair play to them, they turned the game on its head when it looked like they were going to come away with not just a draw, but with nothing.”

On the reinforcements from the bench, he added: “The players weren’t playing badly, we just needed something different.

“The way the game was going, Glenavon were going to see it out for a 1-0 win. When you’re trying to think of solutions of how to change that, it wasn’t anything to do with the players coming off – it’s more about the player going on and what he can bring and something different is what we needed.

“You could see that Glenavon were comfortable in what they were doing, so getting Paul O’Neill, Chris Curran and Daniel Kearns on the pitch was important.

“I thought Daniel was excellent even though it was only a 10 minute appearance but he put them on the back foot and put us on the front foot. Chris Curran had two assists and Paul O’Neill has come in and shown his strength and his cuteness late in the game, bullying people high up the pitch – so the substitutions weren’t about who we wanted to take off, it was more about getting those boys on.”

The Manager also had words of encouragement for Dunne, whose inadvertent pass to Doyle allowed the Lurgan Blues to break the deadlock.

“We had a very quick conversation after the game,” he explained.

“The thing about centre forwards is they can miss chances and people don’t notice it; midfielders can give the ball away and people don’t notice it; centre-halves can miss headers and people don’t notice it. Keepers can’t make a mistake, that’s the pressure of their position, but there’s no bigger man – Decky’s got big broad shoulders and he’ll understand, learn, move on and be a better keeper for it.

“More would have been made of it if we had lost the game but the boys have pulled one out of the bag for him. He’s forgiven for his performances throughout the season, he’s been superb for us. It’s been a great week for him with a lot going on in his life and a baby just arrived. The best day of his life has just happened so it’s understandable that he’s allowed one mistake.”