Cliftonville manager Paddy McLaughlin hails ‘heart and desire’

Boss Paddy McLaughlin hailed the spirit of his Cliftonville side as they produced a stunning comeback to win the Bet McLean League Cup.

The Reds were rocked as Coleraine went 2-0 in front midway through the second half after goals from Matthew Shevlin and Stephen Lowry.

But McLaughlin went to his bench - throwing on Chris Curran, Joe Gormley and Paul O’Neill to help complete a famous victory.

Hide Ad

Both Gormley and O’Neill bagged a brace apiece to secure what could be the first part of an unbelievable ‘Treble’.

Cliftonville boss Paddy McLaughlin shows off the trophy to Reds supporters. Picture by Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker

“It was incredible from the players to come back the way they did,” said Reds chief Paddy McLaughlin. “You’re 2-0 down in a cup final, you’re looking at the clock and it hasn’t been your day.

“You feel as if it’s going to be a sad story, but the character and resilience they showed to get back in the game was incredible.

Hide Ad

“So much has been said about the players but you’ll never beat this team for heart and desire; you couldn’t put a price on that. There’s no one in our league who can match that and that’s what got us over the line.

“We are very blessed to have these kinds of players. I’m leaving out boys like Jamie Harney and Seanna Foster; Jamie has been one of our best players in the past few years but the bar has been raised since the summer but everyone contributes.

Hide Ad

“There are legends of this club we have been able to turn to in Chris Curran and Joe and we are so blessed to have them to call on. Having the likes of Colin Coates to come on and guide boys through the games is so important too.

“At 2-0 I knew I had to get certain boys on the pitch. When you have Paul O’Neill and Joe Gormley in reserve it is no real gamble.

Hide Ad

“You know they will score goals. You always wonder if it is going to be one of those sad stories when there’s disappointment on the big stage but we knew if we got those boys on the pitch, they will do what they do.

“If you blink your eyes, you know Joe is going to be gone - he’s that lively. And Paul will work his socks off.

Hide Ad

“We needed them both and the influence of Chris Curran, our captain. All three were superb.

“Their team was on their knees but they dragged them up when they were needed most and got us over the line.”