CLIFTONVILLE boss Paddy McLaughlin believes that this team’s new-found resolve was evident in Saturday’s comeback draw against Crusaders.
Daniel Kearns’ late equaliser maintained the Solitude side’s unbeaten start to the season and their manager feels there is a new mentality within the squad.
“The resolve was there again,” McLaughlin said.
“I think the mentality within the boys this year has definitely got a lot tougher.
“We had a harsh couple of lessons thrown at us last year with late equalisers and dropping silly points. The players that came in, in January on top of the boys who were already here have learnt those lessons on the back end of last season.
“The boys that came in have given us a breath of fresh air and the demands that they’ve set on themselves and the players around them. You can sense it rubbing off on the other players that are there.
“It’s a good changing room at the minute and we’re playing good stuff. Today was frustrating and scrappy but that resolve was there and that’s what earned us our point. It wasn’t fantastic and wasn’t our best performance, but our resolve and determination got us a point.”
This evening (Tuesday) The Reds begin their Bet McLean League Cup campaign with a home game against Harland and Wolff Welders (7.45pm kick-off).
Rory Hale is expected to miss the clash after limping off injured during Saturday’s derby at Seaview. Despite the injury, McLaughlin doesn’t feel it impacted upon their performance.
“He is a hugely influential player for us”, said McLaughlin.
“When we lost him so early in the game it definitely disrupted us, but we’ve got good players all round the pitch and good players coming off the bench. We can’t use that as an excuse. I just think from the off we didn’t get out foot on the ball and play enough - it was just a frustrating day.
“Crusaders are good at what they do. They’re strong and it gives them joy that they can play their own style and nobody can say anything about it.
“You know when you’re coming here what you’re up against, so you’ve got to be prepared for it and I thought we were. But we let the game get ugly and we got involved in a scrap and it’s hard to beat Crusaders in a scrap because they’re good at it.”
McLaughlin was delighted to see Daniel Kearns make a late impact with the equaliser and praised his many qualities that he brings to the squad.
“Daniel, when he first came in probably wasn’t a hundred percent fit,” McLaughlin revealed.
“He endured a long season with Linfield up to that point with not playing regularly and since he’s come back in pre-season, he’s been fantastic. In pre-season he was probably one of the best performers throughout the programme.
“He’s had to be patient in getting his chance this year and he’s come in with a bit of magic which he’s got and fair play to him.
“He’s a great player, not just as a person on pitch; he’s a great in and around the players as well and in the changing room. I’m glad for him as well because he’s worked his socks off over the off season and came back like a new signing for us. I’m glad to see him doing well when he came on.”