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Rapid response

Paddy McLaughlin got the courageous performance he had called for in Cliftonville’s Danske Bank Premiership victory over Larne yesterday.

Despite falling behind when Lee Bonis volleyed the visitors in front six minutes after the interval, the Reds responded through Sean Moore before Rory Hale’s winner sparked unrestrained scenes of New Year celebration as McLaughlin’s men bounced back from their St Stephen’s Day Derby defeat to Crusaders.

“An unbelievable response,” was what McLaughlin called it.

“It was a test of their character and I’m sure questions would have been asked of them but fair play to them, they stuck to their guns and knew what they were doing was right. They knew they would be rewarded for how hard they were working and they didn’t panic. They didn’t let the heads go down.

“People in the outside world were questioning us and criticising us yet again. We must be doing something right because we’re joint-top of the League along with Larne but all the criticism we’re taking on a regular basis shows you how funny football is. We don’t let that get in our way, we know what we’re doing is right.

“We went behind and things could have gone the other way for us because Larne are good enough to destroy you, but we battened down the hatches for the next five minutes or so after conceding and got back to playing.

“As well as we’d played up to that point, I thought we got even better after we went behind. From then right up to the last kick of the game, I thought we were excellent.”

While he was reluctant to single anyone out for praise, McLaughlin was left with little choice when it came to assessing Moore’s performance.

The 17-year-old had created a number of dangerous openings over the course of the game before producing the strike that got Cliftonville back on level terms.

“My job’s easy – I name Sean Moore in the starting eleven and Decky O’Hara fills in the rest,” he smiled.

“That’s how highly rated Sean Moore is. He carried that threat all day long. He’s up against good players there – Aaron Donnelly’s one of the top left-sided defenders in the League – and they tried to double up on him a few times but he was still managing to find his way around them and create havoc down that side. He’s come up against good players and he’s held his own.”