Belfast Telegraph

Tommy Breslin loss has hit Cliftonville hard, admits McLaughlin

Coleraine 1 Cliftonville 1

Reds fans and players play tribute to their late former manager Tommy Breslin
Reds fans and players play tribute to their late former manager Tommy Breslin
Cliftonville's Joe Gormley lifts his black armband to the sky after scoring a late equaliser against Coleraine.
Cliftonville and Coleraine will go head-to-head in front of the Sky cameras
Reds fans and players play tribute to their late former manager Tommy Breslin
Paddy McLaughlin

By Steve Jones

Cliftonville manager Paddy McLaughlin admitted two or three of his players struggled to cope with their emotions following the passing of ex-Reds boss Tommy Breslin last week.

A minute's applause was held on the Ballycastle Road prior to kick-off to honour Cliftonville's most successful manager, who sadly passed away on holiday in Spain.

Breslin's first signing at Solitude was Joe Gormley and the striker salvaged a point for the Reds with a minute to spare as he powered home from Ryan Curran's cross before celebrating by raising his black armband to the heavens in tribute.

The Bannsiders had taken a deserved lead on 64 minutes when Eoin Bradley deftly touched Ben Doherty's cross into the net, before Gormley netted after a defensive mistake by Gareth McConaghie.

Speaking after his troops earned a share of the spoils, McLaughlin admitted it was difficult to get his players focused for the fixture.

"Away from football, it was a difficult game," he said.

"It's been an emotional week for the club, especially the players.

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"One or two took the sad passing of Tommy Breslin really badly as they knew Tommy so well having played under him.

"It was difficult to get motivated, it was difficult to get the boys focused.

"It was a frustrating day on the pitch. The conditions didn't help, the pitch was a bit dry and bobbly, it didn't really help teams trying to play good football.

"A point was well-earned, but I think it was deserved for the players' efforts, there wasn't much between the sides.

"Joe has been doing that for many years now, he's clinical in the box.

"He was frustrated earlier in the half when he had a chance which he thought he should have scored.

"But you're guaranteed with Joe Gormley that he'll always produce big moments in big games and he did it again."

Oran Kearney, who was in the dugout for the first time after being re-appointed as Coleraine boss, reflected: "I felt in the first half particularly we were dominant maybe without creating the number of chances we would have wanted, but we really kicked on in the second half.

"I think the goal was deserved at the time it came and I thought we managed the game quite well after that, but then all of a sudden in the last four or five minutes, there was one ball before that where we maybe got a bit of a scare.

"To be fair to Gareth, it's unfortunate, he's back-pedalling and loses his footing.

"When you give Joe a chance in that area then there's only going to be one outcome."

COLERAINE: Johns, Kane, Canning, B Doherty, Lowry (Shiels, 88 mins), McLaughlin (Glackin, 75 mins), Bradley (Burns, 85 mins), Carson, McConaghie, O'Donnell, Parkhill. Unused subs: Mullan, Douglas, Gawne, McGuckin.

CLIFTONVILLE: Brush, McDermott, Ives, R Curran, Wilson, Bagnall (C Curran, 84 mins), Doherty, Gormley, Maguire (Harkin, 65 mins), McMenamin (Garrett, 76 mins), Gorman. Unused subs: Dunne, Foster, A Donnelly.

Referee: Ian McNabb (Carrickfergus)

Man of the Match: Stephen Lowry

Match Rating: 7/10

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