PADDY McLaughlin paid tribute to Joe Gormley for his intervention in Friday’s 1-1 draw with Linfield and insists there is no better striker in the scenario. 

Gormley headed the Reds level before the hour mark and his manager hit back at critics who claim the 31-year old striker is past his best. 

“That’s it in a nutshell, Joe does what Joe does,” reflected McLaughlin. 

“Sometimes, he mightn’t be involved too heavily in the game, but he’s got that threat and got those goals in him in the blink of an eye. That’s what he does best whenever people switch off and they give him half a chance: he punishes them, and he did that tonight. 

“He’s been fantastic, and I’ve said it before, he’s been brilliant for us. He leads the line very well. He scores goals and when you need somebody to step up to the plate there’s no better man than Joe. 

“I keep hearing this word from fools out there that say that, but that’s all they are. You don’t even entertain conversation with somebody that tells you that. He’ll score goals until his last breath almost because that’s what he’s born to do. 

“We’re delighted to have him as a big part of the team and a big part of the club. If he keeps doing the business, it’s not bad for a man that is apparently done.”

The Reds boss admits he was disappointed with the goal his side conceded but praised their defending in general. 

“We were disappointed with the goal - I think it took a deflection,” he recalls. 

“We defended really well and nullified the threat of Linfield for a lot of the night. They had a couple of wee half-chances as the game got stretched at the end, but I thought our defence and goalkeeper and even the players in front of them right across the pitch from top to bottom worked their socks off right throughout. 

“They defended really well and looked very composed in their defending, which was good. People get nervous out there at Windsor, it’s an intimidating place against some of the best players in the division so to go and play and defend with a composure right throughout the match, I thought they were excellent.” 

Paddy McLaughlin also hailed the impact of Luke Turner

Paddy McLaughlin also hailed the impact of Luke Turner

McLaughlin didn’t feel his younger players were easily intimidated at Windsor Park and praised impact made by youngsters Declan Dunne and Luke Turner. 

“It takes some going for the players to remain undefeated in this division because we know how tough it is,” insists McLaughlin. 

“You see the results every week and how tough it is, to go six or seven matches into the season without suffering defeat is brilliant for them. Fair play to them, they’ve been superb, but there are bumps along the way and we know that. 

“We’ll prepare for them and as long the boys keep maintaining the form. It is going to take something special to beat them at the minute because they’re in such a rich vein of form with the work rate right throughout. 

“Declan and Luke have earned their place. I don’t think age comes into it whenever you’re good enough you play as far as I can see, and it’s worked well for us. 

“It doesn’t matter how young or how old you are. If you’re better than what you’re up against, you play, and the two boys have seized their opportunity and their chance. They’re two big lads and I wouldn’t want to try and intimidate them because they tower over the top of me whenever I’m talking to them, so there’s no way you’re going to intimidate them.”