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Gray wants Reds to prove they are hungry to surge up league table

By Billy Weir

In the aftermath of Saturday's tame capitulation to Ballymena United in the BetMcLean League Cup semi-final, Cliftonville manager Barry Gray made it clear in no uncertain terms that he did not want to hear the phrase 'player reaction'.

But that is exactly what he needs as the Reds aim to bounce back when they travel to face Warrenpoint Town in the Danske Bank Premiership this evening.

Being called Barry, he should be well used to roller coaster rides, the high of the memorable Tennent's Irish Cup dismissal of Crusaders wiped out by the plunging low of their Showgrounds shocker on Saturday.

While cups can be a bonus, it is the league and a European place that has been and remains Gray's main target.

The only light at the end of the tunnel on Saturday was that teams around the Reds in the table stuttered, but Gray was in no mood to embrace the positives.

"It's a small consolation but we've had this chat with the press after how many games this season?" he blasted. "Our priority has always been to get a European position but you cannot dismiss the fact that we haven't taken a chance to get to a final.

"Whether that cup gets you anything in Europe is totally irrelevant. If you're hungry, individually or as a team, playing for Cliftonville you have to want to win trophies, no matter what trophy it is. There is no excuse for churning out a 60 or 70% work ethic like we did.

"It's a massive week ahead for us and it's not to get us a trophy, and the big question that the players will need to answer is whether we can show that hunger to try and drive on to the highest place we can finish in the league.

"It makes the Irish Cup game with Linfield very interesting, the two of us are very similar in our league standings and now all the eggs of both teams are in the Irish Cup basket.

"Only time will tell if we can brush ourselves off and make it a scenario we learn from or whether it will be just one more week like it has been for so many weeks of the season."

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