Belfast Telegraph

McLaughlin looking to the long-term with Reds

Cliftonville 2 Glentoran 1

By Conor McLaughlin

Paddy McLaughlin says he has his sights fixed on more than short-term targets at Cliftonville.

Though the Reds' immediate priority is to secure European qualification, McLaughlin - whose side roared back to claim a dramatic late win over Glentoran in Saturday's Danske Bank Premiership clash at Solitude - insists he's already looking to lay foundations than can bear fruit next season and beyond.

"There are a lot of good young players at this club and, if you look at our bench against the Glens, we had five players under the age of 23 ready to step in," he explained.

"We're not waiting until the summer to start working for next season, that started the second I came in the door. Obviously we still have matches left and we want to make sure we do well in the play-offs to get into Europe, but that's not the only thing we're aiming towards. We want to finish this season as strongly as we can to give us something to build upon next year."

The Reds made it five wins from McLaughlin's seven matches at the helm when Ryan Curran pounced for an injury-time strike to sink the Glens at the weekend.

The visitors had taken an early lead through Paul O'Neill's delightful header and, having threatened through both Curtis Allen and John Herron before the interval, were made to pay for not turning their dominance into more goals when Cliftonville hit back after the break.

Levi Ives had twice threatened to draw the hosts level before Rory Donnelly got the telling touch on a Niall Grace flick-on to restore parity with just over 20 minutes left on the clock.

The final say belonged to Curran, though, when he was in the right place at the right time to rifle home after Joe Gormley had knocked a Donnelly cross into his path - and the smile was still on McLaughlin's face long after the final whistle.

Glens chief Gary Smyth's imminent departure from the job didn't lessen his sense of disappointment.

"I'm just gutted, again, with an injury-time defeat against Cliftonville for the third time this season," he rued.

In terms of his own future under the arrival of Mick McDermott to the Oval hotseat, he added: "I don't know what will happen. I've heard the same talk as everyone else but what I do know is if I'm going in to manage a club, I'm bringing my own people with me.

"I know the club have said I'm going to be there but I'm not too sure how much of a say the club are going to have."

CLIFTONVILLE: Brush, McGovern (A Donnelly, 90 mins), Ives, Grace, Harney, C Curran, R Curran, R Donnelly, A Harkin, Gormley (Bagnall, 90 mins), Gorman. Unused subs: Neeson, McConnell, Lavery, Maguire, Whiteway.

GLENTORAN: Morris, Kane, Peers, C Gallagher, Herron, Allen, McDaid, Kerr, O'Neill, Gwiazda, Glover. Unused subs: Garrett, McMahon, Smith.

Referee: Tony Clarke (Newtownabbey)

Man of match: Niall Grace

Match rating: 7/10.

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