Paddy’s teaming with praise
Paddy McLaughlin had words of praise for players on both teams after Cliftonville came through yesterday’s Samuel Gelston’s Whiskey Irish Cup first round tie with Islandmagee courtesy of a 5-0 victory.
Joe Gormley netted a first-half hat-trick before Luke Turner and Aaron Donnelly joined him on the scoresheet, while McLaughlin was pleased with the performances young guns Odhran Casey, Michael Morgan and Sean Moore produced from the bench – as well as singling visiting keeper Andrew Benson out for a string of top-drawer saves.
“It was a brilliant hat-trick by Joe,” said the Reds boss.
“He doesn’t complicate the game, which is what he’s very good at. He keeps things very basic and very simple and the three goals were almost identical – he was just touching it out of his feet and half a yard is all he needs to smash it into the net.
“It was classic finishing from a class striker and that was the difference in the first-half. It was probably the difference over the course of the game, that hat-trick was pretty much enough to put the game to bed but you’ve got to give Islandmagee credit because they frustrated us, they got behind the ball, they were well organised and hard-working. If it wasn’t for that brilliance from Joe, it would have been a frustrating half for us but the boys were very professional right throughout the game. It looked comfortable enough in the end but we definitely had to work for it.”
Turner’s strike early in the second-half opened the door on a raft of changes, with McLaughlin reintroducing teen stars Morgan and Moore for the first time since October’s County Antrim Shield defeat of Bangor.
“I said at the time that you’d see those boys back again and I thought the two of them did really well,” he reflected.
“Michael had a couple of chances and he looked lively and sharp. I thought Sean Moore was very good, he likes to get forward and gave us a bit of energy down that left hand side and he knows how to look after himself as we saw after that tackle on him. Fair play to him, I like that about young players when they know that when they come in to play with the big boys, they have to be prepared to look after themselves and he did that very well.
“Odhran Casey as well, he’s only a young boy. People think because he’s been here and in and around the first team for a couple of seasons now that he’s an old man but he’s still a young boy and I thought the three of them did really well.”
No analysis of the contest would be complete without reference to the outstanding saves Benson produced over the course of the day – feats that were all the more remarkable for the fact that he is not actually a goalkeeper by trade and has spent the majority of his career in midfield.
A combination of injury, illness and ineligibility meant Islandmagee reported to Solitude without a recognised stopper to call upon but McLaughlin admits Benson’s display belied the truth.
“I said to the keeper afterwards ‘what a performance’ – the scoreline was no reflection on his performance whatsoever,” he added.
“He’s made a lot of saves in general but a lot of brilliant saves as well. All the credit in the world to him, he was superb.
“Fair play to Islandmagee, hopefully they enjoyed their experience of the Irish Cup and their experience of coming to Solitude. They were well greeted by our boys and looked after after the game so hopefully they enjoyed it and maybe we’ll see them again next year.
“In terms of a day at the office for us, we’re delighted with the win, a clean sheet, getting into the next round – which is the main thing – and a solid performance.”