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Army manoeuvres

Paddy McLaughlin says Cliftonville’s players thrive on the noise the Red Army provide on Derby Day in North Belfast.

This afternoon’s encounter at Seaview is the first St Stephen’s Day duel with Crusaders since 2019 and McLaughlin would dearly love a repeat of the performance and result from that day.

“We’re going to look forward to it and we’re going to enjoy it if we get the same outcome from that game,” he said.

“Although it was a couple of years back now, it was a brilliant performance from us. I think we went behind in the game and then came back and the fans were incredible.

“They made some noise right throughout the game and they were there in their force.”

Both of the subsequent festive derbies were postponed until January and with supporters eager for today’s renewal of a cherished yuletide tradition, McLaughlin says he and his squad share in that enthusiasm.

“Our players know how much the North Belfast Derby means to the Red Army, who are going to be out in force,” he added.

“It will be brilliant for the players because they thrive off that kind of stuff..

“I’m sure that they will make it as intimidating an atmosphere as they can for Crusaders, even though it’s in their own ground.

“We look forward to it and hopefully we can repay them.”