CLIFTONVILLE manager Paddy McLaughlin will remain at the club after agreeing to a new deal last night.

The Derry native had been out of contract after Saturday's European Playoff defeat to Larne and there had been speculation he may take the assistant manager’s job at home-town club Derry City under new boss Ruaidhri Higgins. 

However, following discussions, McLaughlin has decided to remain at Solitude where he recently reached 100 games at the helm since taking over in February 2019.

“We are very pleased to have agreed a new deal with Paddy and look forward to building on the hard work he has done in the last two-and-a-half years," said Chairman, Gerard Lawlor. 

“The season just finished was a very challenging one on and off the park but one thing that never relented was Paddy’s determination and desire to improve Cliftonville every day of every week and I have no doubt he will continue to work as hard as he has ever done as we build towards next season.”

It will be good news for the players who were keen to see McLaughlin stay on, according to defender, Jamie Harney.

Harney feels that the Reds have reached a turning point following a poor first half of the season which saw them in the bottom half and feels that is down to everything McLaughlin, his staff and Gerard Lawlor have done for the club. 

“I feel like we’ve got to the stage and a turning point, some people might disagree,” acknowledges Harney in the wake of Saturday's defeat. 

“But they are not in there every day. Every player in there is doing three or four nights a week. We’re still part-time players and Paddy is persuasive. Most of us are signed to two nights a week and we know to keep up with the big boys then we have to give extra. 

“Paddy gives us everything and all the coaching staff: Conleth (McCrudden), Decky (O’Hara), Kris Lindsay, all the coaching staff and physios and Brian Campbell. They all give everything for us, everything they can and Gerard Lawlor too. 

“Gerard has given us everything the club can, but unfortunately we just fell short.”

Reflecting on Saturday’s 3-1 defeat, Harney revealed that the mood in the dressing room was very much upbeat at the break and they had the belief that they could turn things around. 

“Going into the changing room, the boys don’t know how it happened. It’s devastating when we gave so much,” reflected Harney. 

“We’ve went through a season with a lot of lows and coming off after the first half, the changing room was very positive and we were thinking that we’ve played good stuff, let’s just go out and give it, what have we got to lose? 

“I think our performance showed it, the second goal was a hard one to concede. I don’t know if it was offside, but it doesn’t matter. 

“I don’t know if it was naivety or what it was, but every single player gave everything that they had. All the coaching staff and every member associated with Cliftonville. 

“Nobody gave us a chance going into the game today. I hadn’t heard anything in the media about us - it was all about Larne. We’re devastated about it, but there’s only one thing to do and that’s to go again.” 

Harney admits it was a difficult season with injuries and a poor run of form up until Christmas but insists they will come again next season. 

Jamie Harney tangles with Larne's Josh Robinson

Jamie Harney tangles with Larne's Josh Robinson

“It was a difficult season, as it was for everyone,” admits Harney. 

“I don’t want to use excuses. I don’t think it is our way and it’s definitely not mine, but we’ve had our injuries and our knocks. But we’ve always bounced back through difficult times. 

“After January we’ve really come on strong and even had tough times through that. To come to Inver Park and put that performance, especially that 20/30-minute performance in the second half. It is definitely a tough pill to swallow for me right now. All we can do is go again. 

“The last few seasons I’ve been here we’ve went through the play-offs and we’ve always gave everything we’ve had. It’s been enough to cross the line but today wasn’t enough.

“Larne did well today, there is no two ways about it, and their two goals in the second half was good play, but disappointing from me, looking at it from the team’s perspective. 

“It’s been a tough season and 120 minutes on Tuesday so it’s been a tough slog. I just want to say congratulations to Larne. I know what we gave was everything we can.”