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No strain of thought: Paddy

Paddy McLaughlin says Cliftonville’s expectation-defying performances throughout this season mean there will be no pressure on them when they tackle Glentoran this weekend.

Tomorrow’s Danske Bank Premiership encounter at The Oval is the Reds’ final outing of a rewarding campaign and, with a large travelling support poised to mobilise, the Manager says he and his players are looking forward to the latest big occasion of a memorable schedule.

“It’s important we keep going and give this one last push,” he says.

“It’s going to be a tough game because Glentoran have a good record at The Oval, so we’ve kept our heads down and put the work in to prepare for that.

“You always look forward to big matches and these are the sort of games everybody wants to be involved in. It’s great for the League as a whole to have a final day of the season like this one.

“We just have to focus on what we can do and on our result. If we can go and deliver, then you never know what can happen.”

Regardless of the outcome, Cliftonville are already mathematically assured of a top-two finish in the table meaning that, for the first time since they were introduced by the NI Football League, the Club will not be involved in the end-of-term Play-Offs for the last remaining European place – and McLaughlin believes that such defiance of pre-season conjecture puts his players’ achievements into perspective.

“I don’t think we’re under any pressure at all,” he adds.

“I don’t feel any, the players don’t seem to either. There’s been no expectation on us from day one, we’ve upset the odds and ripped up the predictions.

“Everybody said that we would struggle to finish in the top six, so that just shows you how well we’ve done.”