Belfast Telegraph

Paddy McLaughlin is the reason for my red-hot scoring form, says Cliftonville star McMenamin

Conor McMenamin celebrates scoring on Boxing Day
Conor McMenamin celebrates scoring on Boxing Day

By Graham Luney

Conor McMenamin has saluted his Cliftonville manager, Paddy McLaughlin, for transforming him into a real dangerman in the Danske Bank Premiership.

Cliftonville beat Crusaders 2-1 on Boxing Day at Seaview to take over at the top of the table from Linfield who lost 3-0 away to Glentoran.

And it was former Blues man McMenamin who weaved his magic on the Shore Road, netting a superb brace to floor the Crues.

McMenamin, who also scored the winner against Coleraine last weekend, was the man of the match in the derby by some distance.

These are happy times for the 24-year-old at Solitude but it wasn't always the case and McMenamin credits McLaughlin for lifting his performance level.

"I had been struggling with a quad injury but thankfully I've hit the ground running and Paddy has instilled great confidence in me and reaping the rewards," said McMenamin.

"Before Paddy came in I wasn't sure what my future would hold but he believes in me and works hard with me on the training ground. When the manager tells you how good you are, it fills you with confidence and hopefully I can keep repaying him on the pitch."

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The former Glentoran striker, now in his second season with the Reds, was thrilled to make a big impact and keep the north Belfast side flying over the winter period.

"Paddy told us it was 10 years since we won here on Boxing Day so it's nice to get a win in the game," he added.

"The boys were brilliant. We knocked the ball about well and although it was a battle, we thankfully came out on top.

"Everyone says Christmas is a key time and Paddy's put us on a drinks ban for a reason.

"There is no point denying it, we are in the mix at the top of the table. It's nice to be in the mix going into the Irish Cup matches, that's what we wanted."

McLaughlin, whose side visit Larne this afternoon, is impressed by his players' fighting spirit, as well as their talent.

"We have talented players but they are also prepared to put their bodies on the line and you need that in this league," said the Solitude chief.

"It's a tough physical league and you have to be prepared for it. We can play a bit but also fight for our lives.

"You need a Liam Bagnall as much as you need a Jamie Harney or a Garry Breen. The back five were excellent and we dealt with the high balls well and deserved the three points.

"It was a brilliant response to going behind. We could have rolled over and taken a bad beating but we went at it again and that's down to the right mentality and the pride they have in representing the supporters who were brilliant. Their support does make a difference to the players.

"How we defend as a unit has been brilliant. We aren't soft at the back and we soaked up their pressure while looking a real threat going forward."

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