Conor McDermott’s dream strike latest example of Cliftonville turning special into status quo

It should come as little surprise that Conor McDermott offered a simple explanation for his goal so spectacular in its execution.

Wednesday, 13th November 2019, 11:03 am
Updated Sunday, 12th January 2020, 3:31 am

After all, making the memorable seem mundane has been the foundation of Cliftonville’s form this season.

McDermott lifted the spirits of the Reds fans - and broke the hearts of Warrenpoint - by showing the ambition and ability to find the net from inside his own half.

That goal handed the on-song hosts a 2-0 lead just moments after Mark McKee had marked his full debut by breaking the deadlock. Joe Gormley then made it 3-0 before the breakwith Ryan Curran’s second-half penalty keeping Cliftonville flying high at the expense of basement-based Warrenpoint.

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“The ball sat nicely after the flick and I saw the goalkeeper off this line so thought ‘Why not?’,” said a delighted McDermott. “After I flicked it, I looked up and had a couple of seconds. I saw him just past the six-yard box so felt there was a chance it could go in if I hit it well.

“The second touch set it up and I struck it clean, if I didn’t connect that way it probably wouldn’t have gone in.

“It’s one of those things, happy days.

“I pointed to my thigh in the celebration as part of a private joke with Jamie Harney.

“To be fair, in training a couple of times I’ve scored a few like that too and thought the worst that could happen is the goalkeeper collects the ball or it goes over.

“I started out as a midfielder in my younger days up until 17 or 18 years old when I broke into Derry City’s first team.

“They changed me into a full-back but I’ve always been comfortable on the ball, with passing or shooting a strength of mine over the years, and in recent weeks I’ve come up with assists and been on the scoresheet.”

Cliftonville have now lifted maximum points from league games to date across October and November.

“You can see the ability across the squad is frightening but last season the problem was in the defence,” said McDermott. “Paddy McLaughlin has come in and started from the back to shore up the defence, with so many clean sheets this season.

“The main thing I’ve noticed is the intensity of the defending - we do a lot of one-v-one and two-v-two work in training.

“Declan O’Hara takes us for some defensive shape too and repetition is important.

“Plus you don’t want to concede in training, we’re raging when it happens.

“Cliftonville have been renowned over the years for the attacking strengths so playing against those types of players in training improves us as defenders.

“You are not going up against that kind of quality each week in games.

“The front five always work off each other so well.

“And coming up against us keeps the forwards sharp too I think, so it’s working well at the minute.

“Some of the passing and movement is phenomenal, it’s going well with a good feeling about the place.

“But we cannot get too far ahead of ourselves, we just want to keep playing our way.

“The togetherness is great here, we’re friendly with each other but on gameday there’s a focus to get the result.”

CLIFTONVILLE: Brush, McDermott (Foster, 60), Breen, McKee (Wilson, 74), Harney, C.Curran, R.Curran, R.Donnelly (Maguire, 46), Doherty, J.Gormley, A.Donnelly

Subs: Dunne, Casey, Gorman, McCurry

WARRENPOINT TOWN: Turker, Bennett, Reilly, McVeigh, O’Sullivan (Murnaghan, 78), Doyle (Smith, 62), Young, Forde, Watters (Mullen, 65), Cowan, McCann

Subs: Byrne, O’Kane

Referee: Andrew Davey