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Sport Cliftonville boss Paddy McLaughlin hails title "compliment" ahead of new season

09:00  13 august  2022
09:00  13 august  2022 Source:   belfastlive.co.uk

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Paddy McLaughlin has told his players to embrace the fact neutrals and pundits are predicting a serious title charge from Cliftonville this season.

Cliftonville boss Paddy McLaughlin © Getty Images Cliftonville boss Paddy McLaughlin

Twelve months ago no one was talking up a challenge from the Reds who subsequently went on to run Linfield close at the top of the Danske Bank Premiership.

But after a runners-up finish in April and a busy summer of strengthening in the transfer market, McLaughlin accepts there’ll be a brighter spotlight on Solitude in the weeks ahead.

Read more: Glentoran boss Mick McDermott shoots down 'inevitable' Caolan Marron transfer

gers hopes dented

  gers hopes dented Rangers’ first step towards the Champions League ended in some despair with a 2-0 defeat by Union Saint-Gilloise in the first leg of their third qualifying round in Belgium.However, amid a passive first-half performance by the Light Blues last night, the home side took the lead in the 27th minute when captain Teddy Teuma opened the scoring with a shot which asked questions of Gers keeper Jon McLaughlin’s attempt to save.

“A lot of people probably didn’t see us coming last season and rightly so given the number of full-time clubs in the Irish League," he said.

“The focus was always going to be on the full-time clubs to go and do well, so the fact we went under the radar did us no harm last time out.

“We probably will attract a bit of attention this year because we did so well last season, but that’s not a bad thing. I actually take it as a compliment.

“It will be difficult and I’m sure the likes of Larne, Glentoran and Crusaders will be stronger. Linfield will always be Linfield and Coleraine will also be better.

“It will be tough, but I’m sure it’ll be another exciting season. For us, it’s important that we try to maintain the high standards we set last season.”

McLaughlin accepts it was a given that Linfield, who have lifted the Gibson Cup in the past four campaigns, will be strong favourites to make it five-in-a-row.

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“There’s no argument with that,” he said. “They have been champions the last number of years for a reason because they have been the top side in the division.

“David Healy is an unbelievable manager and he has done a fantastic job. It’s up to us or others to try and get the better of Linfield, but it’s a hard task because they’re so good. That’s the challenge we all face.”

Cliftonville face a tough opener against Coleraine who are out to prove a point after losing to the Reds in the League Cup final in March and enduring a sixth-place finish last season.

Oran Kearney has also enjoyed a productive summer of transfer business, securing the likes of Lee Lynch, Dean Jarvis, Michael McCrudden, Conor McDermott and Jack O’Mahony.

“Coleraine have signed well and I’m sure the (synthetic) pitch up there will suit the players they have brought in," said McLaughlin.

“Oran has done a brilliant job there over a number of years and I’m sure that will continue on for a long while yet, so we don’t expect anything other than a ding-dong game.

IndyCar Nashville: McLaughlin beats Grosjean to pole

  IndyCar Nashville: McLaughlin beats Grosjean to pole Scott McLaughlin delivered his second career pole with top qualifying time for the Big Machine Music City GP, beating a resurgent Romain Grosjean, after lightning during a rainstorm caused a 90-minute delay. © Gavin Baker / Motorsport Images Scott McLaughlin, Team Penske Chevrolet Grosjean had put his Andretti car on top during the Fast Six, getting ahead of Christian Lundgaard - but McLaughlin eclipsed the Frenchman's time late on - posting a 1m14.5555s to collect pole position for Sunday's race.

“It should be a good game between two good footballing sides full of technical talent.”

SATURDAY'S FIXTURES

Ballymena United v Glenavon

Carrick Rangers v Newry City

Coleraine v Cliftonville

Crusaders v Dungannon Swifts

SUNDAY

Linfield v Portadown

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