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Cliftonville Euro hero Davy McDaid vows to hit new heights

By David Mason

Goal hero Davy McDaid insists he's at Cliftonville for the long haul.

The 25-year-old bagged a priceless winner in the first ever Europa League play-off final against Glentoran at Solitude on Tuesday night to earn the Reds a financial jackpot.

When McDaid's 20-yard drive nestled in the bottom corner with 10 minutes left, it netted Gerard Lyttle's team a cool £160,000. Little wonder the little striker was showered in champagne at the finish.

It was a night of sheer drama, which included five goals, three sendings-off, a missed penalty kick and a mass brawl that involved all 22 players.

"That's the biggest goal I have ever scored," admitted McDaid.

"For this club not to be in Europe is unthinkable. And, if we are all being honest, people were playing for contracts, too."

For McDaid, it was his 20th goal of the season - and a massive relief for him personally.

"I've taken a bit of criticism, but I don't mind," he added. "People will either love me or hate me.

"I am happy to be at Cliftonville and I will be here next year unless they don't want me obviously. Skin (Lyttle) and I have had a few chats and we agree on a lot of things, so I am delighted to be at this club.

"We knew his neck was on the line, too (depending on the result). We were beaten by Linfield a while ago and we were humiliated in the second-half.

"That's when the players felt it. We thought he maybe wasn't going to be the manager any longer - and that would have been totally down to us."

McDaid, who was only introduced to the white-hot action for the last 23 minutes, admitted he was forced to leave the dressing room at half time as Lyttle read the riot act.

"It was proper tasty, but that's exactly what was needed. I was still on the bench, so I left," he added.

"Sometimes people say that, as a club and as a group of players, we are all too close and I can see why that is.

"That has been the criticism all year, but believe me, it hasn't been like that over the last couple of weeks. We all know where we stand.

"We owe Skin. I've never played for a manager who wants a team to do so well. It's ridiculous the amount of time he has given up for us."

McDaid reckons the brawl just after the half time sparked his team to life, adding: "It was the worst thing that could have happened to Glentoran. Sometimes that can help inspire a team - we play better when we have that edge. I don't know why that is and it is something we need to fix for next season.

"Maybe we think we are better players and don't have to work as hard as everyone else, which is crazy. I include myself in that. It's a difficult thing, though. We know we have to work as hard as the other team at the very least to be successful and we haven't done that in some games.

"When you're on the pitch and you think someone isn't as good as you, it's natural to think you can stroll about a bit but in reality that's the worst thing you can do." Referee Raymond Crangle didn't caution anyone following the brawl but he did show red cards to Cliftonville keeper Conor Devlin and Glentoran's Chris Lavery after a confrontation as the teams headed towards the dressing rooms.

"Some people might say he could have issued a few cards after the melee at half-time but a lot of people were separating Jamie McGovern and Curtis Allen and these incidents can look worse than they actually are," said Lyttle.

"There was actually no talk of refereeing decisions afterwards but of course when we got in at half-time we discovered Conor (Devlin) had been shown a red card and we needed to adjust things.

"There were claims of Conor Devlin and Chris Lavery throwing a punch at one another but Conor said he didn't and I believe him though video will be checked.

"I spoke to Raymond Crangle about the incidents and I have no issues whatsoever with his decisions.

"In fact I felt Raymond handled the game well. I did question the handball that wasn't given against Jay Magee but he said it wasn't intentional.

"Any fines would possibly apply to both clubs but I'm focused on the football side and I've no idea if that will happen."

Belfast Telegraph


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