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Cliftonville can’t sit still in pursuit of silverware, says Jamie McDonagh after signing new contract at Solitude

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Jamie McDonagh has penned a deal until 2025

Jamie McDonagh has penned a deal until 2025

©INPHO/Brian Little

Jamie McDonagh has penned a deal until 2025

Irrepressible Jamie McDonagh celebrated a new contract extension at Cliftonville by predicting good days up ahead a Solitude.

The 26-year-old enjoyed a sensational first season with the Reds, having been snapped up from Glentoran by shrewd manager Paddy McLaughlin last summer.

Not only did he chip in with some vital goals, but 27 assists in 44 appearances made him an immediate hit with the Red Army.

McLaughlin wasted no time this week in securing the services of the former Derry City man until 2025 — and McDonagh can’t wait to get down to business.

The Reds, of course, pushed Linfield until the final kick of the ball before David Healy’s team secured the Danske Bank Premiership title for the fourth successive year.

Although the north Belfast boys lifted the League Cup, they lost out to rivals Crusaders at the Semi-Final stage of the Irish Cup before Healy’s team finally twisted the knife on the final day of the league campaign.

“We now have to follow up on what we did last season,” said McDonagh. “We had a good year, winning the League Cup and we were in the title race right until the final day.

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“When I first arrived at Cliftonville last summer, no one thought we would be title candidates. No one thought we were good enough. But we had belief in the dressing room and we wanted to show everyone we were.

“I remember we defeated Coleraine in one of our early games and I was asked could we be serious challengers? I said we’ll do the talking on the pitch.

“Everyone was talking about Linfield, Larne and Glentoran as potential league title winners. We just went about our business, week by week, chalking off games and picking up points. We want to do the same this season.

“We got a taste of winning trophies last year; we want to do the same — and even more.”

Although Cliftonville lost to Slovakian side DAC in the first round of the Europa Conference League last week, McDonagh believes the preparation will help the Reds hit the ground running on the opening day of the Premiership season at Coleraine.

“It was great preparation,” he added. “We didn’t get much of a break since the end of last season, so Paddy gave us this week off. We didn’t mind coming back early, especially to play in Europe. It was good bonding exercise for the new lads.

“This wee break will do us the world of good. It will help clear our heads a little bit, the fitness will still be there when we return on Sunday.

“We’ll work on a few things for the new league campaign. Hopefully we’ll be a lot sharper and fitter when the curtain goes up. Yes, we would have liked to have done better in Europe, but we came up against a really good side.”

The Reds lost 5-1 over the two legs, but there was no shame in their two performances.

“(DAC) were decent, they are a good side,” he went on. “Out of the local teams, we got the toughest draw of the lot.

“They are a classy outfit and they will probably go far in the tournament. It was a great experience for us, a good test to get us up and running for the new season.

“Our pre-season was tough, we played against quality opponents — Derry City, Shamrock Rovers, Bala Town and The New Saints. Paddy wanted quality opposition, there was no point in playing a team you can beat eight or nine nil. You don’t get much anything from games like that.

“So it was a good test for us. Ideally it was to get us ready for the European game.

“In the end, (DAC) had a couple of standout players, which proved to be the difference.”


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