Ryan Catney's 'fantastic' Cliftonville return hailed after Reds sink Glentoran
Glentoran 1 Cliftonville 2
Cliftonville boss Barry Gray hailed the return of midfielder Ryan Catney after his team's smash-and-grab victory at the Oval on Saturday.
The 31-year-old made his first Danske Bank Premiership start following 18 months of agony following a horrible leg break.
But Catney was back as good as new for the season opener against Glentoran and was instrumental in his team's success, even though they had to rely on late strikes from Joe Gormley and Jay Donnelly to guarantee the points.
Glentoran held out until 18 minutes from time, clinging bravely to a first half John McGuigan goal. But when Gormley levelled, heads dropped in the home camp and they were duly punished deep into injury time, when Donnelly's shot on the turn managed to creep past Elliott Morris.
"Ryan's only getting going, we can't expect too much of him too early," beamed Gray. "He has been fantastic on and off the pitch over our pre-season programme.
"His driven attitude is infectious to the rest of the group. Ryan's organisation on the pitch was outstanding, especially during the times when it was a little bit tough for us.
"A lot of our fans will tell you that's what we were missing last season - and perhaps it was. Ryan is a leader. He plays with his heart on his sleeve and I'm thrilled to have in back again."
Glentoran boss Ronnie McFall, who had his new backroom team with him on the bench - former Oval favourites, Paul Leeman and Gary Smyth - admitted he will go on a search for new players before the close of the transfer window.
"Most of the other clubs have their squads settled, that's not the case with us," said McFall.
"By the time the new management structure was put in place, the market was basically closed to us. Anyone we were interested in had gone.
"We've now got to hunt, England, Scotland, Wales and the Republic of Ireland to get players. That's the situation we find ourselves in. So our objectives for the season ahead will depend on who we can get in. It's not easy.
"We have been talking to players who are full-time, so they don't want to come into a part-time set-up.
"It's a big challenge. We'll see what happens. If they are not there, you can't manufacture them - that's just the simple fact."
GLENTORAN: Morris, Garrett, Kane, Birney, McMahon, Allen (Kelly, 75 mins), McGuigan, Davidson (McCarthy, 75 mins), Kerr, Pepper, Redman. Unused subs: Prentice, Gordon, Ferrin.
CLIFTONVILLE: Brush, McGovern (White, 85 mins), Ives, C Curran (Maguire, 75 mins), R Curran, Bagnall, Catney, Gormley, J Donnelly, McMenamin, A Donnelly.Unused subs: Neeson, McConnell, Lavery, Conn, McNulty.
Referee: Tim Marshall (Irvinestown)
Man of the match: Ryan Catney
Match rating: 7/10