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Fighting wait

Paddy McLaughlin felt that Cliftonville’s fighting spirit came to the fore in last night’s Danske Bank Premiership victory over Linfield.

Ronan Doherty registered the only goal of the game early on and, though the Reds had opportunities to extend their advantage before the break, they found themselves operating significant rearguard action in the second-half as the Blues piled on what was at times relentless pressure – and McLaughlin was thrilled to see his men stand up to the challenge.

“It was hard fought and you know what Linfield are like, they’re Champions for a reason,” he reflected.

“They’re really, really strong and came at us with everything for the last 10 or 15 minutes especially.

“We’re delighted we kept a clean sheet. I said to the boys in there that to keep a clean sheet against Linfield, you have to be doing something really well, you’ve got to be working yourself into the ground, throwing yourself in front of the ball and putting your head in where it hurts – everything you need.

“You don’t beat Linfield unless every single player is prepared to work as hard as possible right across the park and that’s what we got from our boys.”

While saluting the team effort, the Manager also found time to toast Doherty’s contribution after the midfielder celebrated turning 27 with the night’s decisive moment.

“It was a great goal – great build-up play and a great finish,” added McLaughlin.

“I don’t even think he put his foot through it, he just passed it into the net. It was a goal worthy of winning the game.

“One thing about Ronan is that he’s a real class act both as a footballer and as a person, he carries himself really well. He’s a classy fella and he plays like that on the pitch but the only criticism I would have of him is that he probably doesn’t score enough goals but if that’s the start of him chipping in with some goals, it’ll take his game to another level.

“I’m delighted for him on a personal note. It was his birthday and he’d everybody from Carndonagh down here to celebrate, so I’m sure they’ve gone home happy.”