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Scruff and tumble

Paddy McLaughlin lamented Cliftonville’s failure to take yesterday’s Samuel Gelston’s Whiskey Irish Cup clash with Dungannon Swifts “by the scruff”.

The Reds suffered a quarter-final exit when two Rhyss Campbell goals just before the hour mark set the visitors on course for a victory that was never threatened, even in the aftermath of Joe Gormley reducing the arrears in injury-time, leaving the Manager to reflect on what might have been.

“At no stage in the game did we show the intensity or the quality that we’ve been showing, especially at home,” said McLaughlin.

“Even going back to last week’s game with Glentoran, the energy we brought, the work rate and everything we did was lacking here. That’s frustrating for the players and the staff because of all the work that they put in but also for the supporters. We know this record the Club have had in the Irish Cup and how long it’s been.

“I did genuinely believe that the opportunity was there this year – especially at home in the quarter-final with a semi-final at a neutral ground. It was there for us and we prepared everything exactly the same as we always do, we’ve nothing to blame and no excuses – we just didn’t perform.

“On the day, we disappointed right across the pitch. There’s no area of the pitch that’s coming out with any credit and, on the flip side of that, I thought Dungannon were excellent. They counter-attacked us really well and defended really well, nullifying us down to absolutely zero threats on goal.

“They scored two and could have scored another couple. They were better than us, they broke better than us and they created more chances than us.

“We lacked that urgency and someone taking the game by the scruff. Defensively, we looked vulnerable; in midfield, we looked a bit off the pace and up front, we were nullified from early in the game. It was a whole collective thing where we needed someone to give us that spark and get the fans off their seats but we just didn’t have that.”