Stephen McDonnell: Cliftonville speculation ‘irrelevant’ after Barry Gray’s exit as boss keeps focus on Warrenpoint Town

Warrenpoint Town boss Stephen McDonnell
Warrenpoint Town boss Stephen McDonnell
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Stephen McDonnell has dismissed as “irrelevant” speculation linking the Warrenpoint Town boss with a switch to Cliftonville.

Kenny Shiels stands as the name most connected to the Cliftonville hot-seat in the aftermath of Barry Gray’s departure on Saturday evening but McDonnell has also been suggested as a permanent replacement.

The Reds are expected to soon name an interim boss from the in-house staff at Solitude to try and arrest the immediate decline following six defeats in seven fixtures.

However, McDonnell moved quickly to dismiss talk of Cliftonville and reaffirm his commitment to the Warrenpoint work.

“For me at this point we can only call any speculation as irrelevant given I’ve not been approached or offered anything from Cliftonville and have my full focus on Warrenpoint Town,” said McDonnell. “We have a big period coming up for Warrenpoint, with this week’s Mid-Ulster Senior Cup final, a big league game against Newry City AFC and then the Irish Cup.

“I do not want any players hearing about my name and Cliftonville and losing focus.

“First and foremost, I’m surprised to hear of any speculation as there has not been contact with anyone from Cliftonville.

“Obviously I’ve gone on the record in the past to state I’m ambitious about my career as a manager.

“I will always give consideration to any offers and look at if an opportunity that could come up is right at the time - but that’s the same if it happens today or five years down the line.

“I’m enjoying the progress we’ve made at Warrenpoint Town and am very happy here, with my focus only on this current job.”

A Cliftonville club statement was released online on Saturday evening.

“Cliftonville Football Club can confirm that it has this evening parted company with manager Barry Gray,” it confirmed. “We place on record our sincere thanks to Barry for his hard work and dedication over the last season-and-a-half and wish him very well for the future.

“There will be no further comment at this time.”