Paddy McLaughlin highlighted the role Cliftonville’s substitutes played in last night’s Danske Bank Premiership victory over Larne.
An early Ryan Curran header broke the deadlock at Inver Park, where the Reds carved out a host of first-half chances before absorbing a brief spell of pressure after the interval en route to three vital points in front of a boisterous travelling support.
In toasting the contribution of every player, McLaughlin took particular heart from the work second-half subs Chris Curran, Aaron Donnelly, Paul O’Neill and Jamie Harney did to add to the foundations that had been laid by the starting XI.
“A brilliant victory at a very tough venue,” was the Manager’s summary.
“Larne are one of the contenders to win the League so to come to their place and get a result like that, we’re delighted. The boys were superb throughout, stayed disciplined and created chances that could have extended our lead.
“The boys that came off the bench were excellent, too. Jamie Harney went in and did a brilliant job in winning that first ball. We saw Larne getting a bit more direct late on and I think we needed to be careful we didn’t lose that first header and Harney’s gone in and done a brilliant job.
“Chris Curran was superb at right-back and Paul O’Neill led the line really well and got us up the pitch when we were under pressure. Aaron Donnelly went in and shored things up in midfield. Everybody played their part and they were all excellent.”
McLaughlin, whose half-time dismissal by referee Steven Gregg saw Declan O’Hara assume the managerial reins after the break, was also quick to acknowledge the courage that Ryan Curran showed in getting between Kofi Balmer and goalkeeper Rohan Ferguson to get on the end of Jonny Addis’ forward ball and break the deadlock.
“Currany put his head in where he knew there was a good chance he was going to get hurt and got clattered by the keeper but it was worth it in the end because he’s scored the winning goal from it,” he added.
“He’s that good and that athletic that he can play in a number of positions for us but we wanted to get him through the middle and it paid off with the goal. Fair play to him for his bravery, he was prepared to get hurt for the team.”