Belfast Telegraph

We're blessed that Brush is still playing, says Cliftonville boss Paddy McLaughlin

 

Spot on: Cliftonville players hail their penalty shoot-out hero, Richard Brush
Spot on: Cliftonville players hail their penalty shoot-out hero, Richard Brush
Paddy McLaughlin
Richard Brush

By Steven Beacom

Cliftonville manager Paddy McLaughlin has hailed the courage and character of Richard Brush following his comeback from serious illness and labelled him the best goalkeeper in the Irish League.

Brush has been in brilliant form this season and was the hero for the Reds on Tuesday night, saving two penalties in Tuesday night's County Antrim Shield quarter-final shoot-out success against Linfield at Windsor Park.

In November last year, there were serious concerns for the former Ballinamallard United number one when he was rushed to hospital after suffering a stroke in his car on his way home to Sligo after playing in Cliftonville's victory over Newry City.

Brush later revealed that clots were found on his brain but, with the help of hospital staff, the problem was resolved and he was put on medication to ensure it didn't happen again.

The 34-year-old took time to recover and is now back to his brilliant best.

"At this moment in time, I fully believe Richard Brush is the best goalkeeper in the Irish League," said McLaughlin.

"We are blessed to have him. You know what he has gone through and to come back from that and put in the performances he is delivering right now says a lot about the man.

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"For any other person, what happened to Richard would have probably been career ending but he has a desire to play football and a desire to play for Cliftonville.

"When you have that within your squad you have every chance of doing well. We are lucky to have that in abundance."

Another highly impressive performer against the Blues was midfielder Ronan Doherty, signed in the summer from McLaughlin's old club Institute. Doherty finished off a fantastic move to open the scoring just before the break and cleverly set up Ryan Curran for his second-half goal.

"Ronan showed he is definitely in that calibre of player that you can say is the best in his position," stated McLaughlin.

"It was important when we took over at Solitude last season that we made him one of our key targets in the summer.

"We are delighted to have him here and the fans are going to love him as the season goes on. It took him a couple of weeks to find his feet and now he is showing he is a top talent."

On the display overall, McLaughlin added: "It would have been a crime against football if we hadn't won the game. The players deserved it and so did our supporters, who were fantastic on Tuesday night.

"It was probably as good as an away performance as you'll see at Windsor Park and that's including the sides that played there in the summer in Europe.

"We controlled the game for large periods and some of the football we played was fantastic and the two goals were superb.

"We scored another (through Conor McMenamin) that was given offside and I'm hoping it was offside because it was one of the best goals I've seen in a long time and I'd hate if it was disallowed for no reason.

"Some of the play and the goals we scored were as good as you'll see in our league.

"Our first goal was brilliant. I'm not too sure how many passes led up to it in our build-up. We showed great patience and put in at least 20 passes and the finish just capped it off.

"You have to be patient in your play.

"I worked that way at Institute and we showed at Windsor how good we can be."

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