Belfast Telegraph

Two Premiership bosses enter Cliftonville frame as Shiels terms could be sticking point

Institute's Paddy McLaughlin (left) and Warrenpoint Town chief Stephen McDonnell (right) are in the running to become the next Cliftonville manager.
Institute's Paddy McLaughlin (left) and Warrenpoint Town chief Stephen McDonnell (right) are in the running to become the next Cliftonville manager.

By Steven Beacom

Institute's Paddy McLaughlin and Warrenpoint Town's Stephen McDonnell have emerged as genuine candidates for the vacant manager's role at Cliftonville.

The Solitude outfit are seeking a new boss after Barry Gray left the post following Saturday's 3-1 league defeat at Dungannon Swifts - the team's sixth loss in seven games.

Without any chance of a trophy, Cliftonville's turbulent season could still end on a high if they qualify for Europe through the play-offs.

Former Cliftonville Olympic boss Michael Press will take charge of Saturday's home match with Glenavon but the Reds board want a new manager installed for their next Danske Bank Premiership fixture with Newry City at Solitude on February 9.

McLaughlin and McDonnell have admirers amongst Cliftonville's key decision makers for the excellent work they have done with Institute and Warrenpoint respectively. It has been noted both like to play the type of attractive football so adored by Reds fans.

It is understood that in the summer McLaughlin will start his Pro Coaching Licence which is key to Irish League clubs playing in Europe. McDonnell is keen to gain this qualification too.

Both managers are known for playing a slick brand of football. McLaughlin guided Institute to the Championship title last season and has led his side to an impressive season in the top flight, currently in seventh spot in the league table. McDonnell is the league youngest boss at just 26 but has made a bright start to life as a manager after taking over the reigns at Warrenpoint in February.

Former Derry City manager Kenny Shiels is another discussed at boardroom level but sources suggest agreeing terms could be a sticking point.

Speaking after Barry Gray departed the Reds on Saturday, Point boss McDonnell said current speculation was 'irrelevant' but confirmed he was open to offers from other clubs.

“For me at this point we can only call any speculation as irrelevant given I’ve not been approached or offered anything from Cliftonville and have my full focus on Warrenpoint Town,” he told the News Letter.

“First and foremost, I’m surprised to hear of any speculation as there has not been contact with anyone from Cliftonville.

“Obviously I’ve gone on the record in the past to state I’m ambitious about my career as a manager.

“I will always give consideration to any offers and look at if an opportunity that could come up is right at the time - but that’s the same if it happens today or five years down the line."

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