Paddy McLaughlin’s Cliftonville drive from day-to-day development over one-off games

Paddy McLaughlin stands two wins away from bringing to an end Cliftonville’s 41-year search for Irish Cup success.

Cliftonville manager Paddy McLaughlin. Pic by Pacemaker.
Cliftonville manager Paddy McLaughlin. Pic by Pacemaker.

However, the Reds manager’s focus extends far beyond the high-stakes fixtures.

“To be honest, I’m at Cliftonville for more than one-off, high-profile occasions,” said McLaughlin ahead of facing Glentoran in today’s Irish Cup semi-final. “I love the work we do together with the staff and players.

“Getting out on the training pitch and matchdays together, watching the hard work everyone puts in and how they buy into our goals is why I’m here more than anything.

“I’ve enjoyed watching the guys get back at it from lockdown and now we are looking forward to getting back out on the pitch.

“We are all just glad to be back in and looking forward to, once again, playing competitive football.

“Our approach has been to keep a regular routine, as similar as possible to our previous work.

“We’ve opted out of using the extra time to prepare for one single game by putting additional focus on Glentoran.

“Our preparations have been as normal as possible as well, we’ve not put too much extra work on Glentoran over our own traditional preparations.

“The guys had the weekend off to relax and prepare for Monday then we will focus on the semi-final around whatever arrangements leading up to kick-off.

“It might be a strange environment but this group of players has been brilliant from the moment I arrived in dealing with obstacles.

“They’ve been able to handle any challenges thrown at them and get over hurdles all along, so I’ve every confidence they can do the same on Monday.

“The lads have managed to find answers and adapt and adjust so many times.

“It’s a group with winner’s medals behind them and full of talent, with a good mix of youth and experience.

“But we’re not talking about the final at this point, our only focus is on Monday.

“We know Glentoran will prove a difficult challenge, they’ve invested heavily and both clubs like to play so it should make for an entertaining tie on what will be an excellent surface.

“Everyone is looking forward to Monday and I don’t think having our first competitive match back as such a big game like a semi-final will make it any more difficult for the players.”

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