Paddy McLaughlin could be installed as Cliftonville's next manager
PADDY McLaughlin looks set to be the next Cliftonville manager after Reds officials made an approach earlier this week.
The former Derry City defender (39) has been in charge of Institute since last year and guided them into senior football this season.
The Drumahoe side has earned rave reviews for their style of play which included a 6-4 defeat of Cliftonville before Christmas.
It is understood former Linfield manager Warren Feeney and former Derry City boss Kenny Shiels were among those interviewed for the post, as well as a host of southern-based coaches – but the Cliftonville board appear to have settled for the highly regarded McLaughlin as Barry Gray’s successor.
If McLaughlin takes the reins it increases the chances of Institute’s top scorer Michael McCrudden joining him at Solitude next season.
McLaughlin is in the process of getting his UEFA pro licence coaching qualifications which smooths the way for European football, although it’s unlikely the Reds can claw back into contention between now and the end of the season.
For reserve team manager Michael Press has taken temporary charge of the Cliftonville first team and earned a 1-1 draw at Glenavon last weekend.
Irish Cup stats (3pm unless otherwise stated)
Larne v Strabane (1.30pm)
LARNE Tech are hoping for promotion to the Amateur League Premier Section this season but Strabane Celtic upset the odds in the last round, knocking out Knockbreda, and they can make the quarter-finals today.
Ballymena United v Portadown
THE Ports, who trail Larne by 16 points in the Championship, have it all to do against the Braidmen who are staying the pace at the top of the Premiership.
Larne v Crumlin Star
BOTH sets of players will put their many friendships on hold as Paul Trainer’s Crumlin Star side travel to Inver Park with nothing to lose and everything to gain. This won’t be a walk in the park for high-flying Larne but they should still come through a feisty contest.
Linfield v Crusaders
THE Blues appear to have Crusaders’ number this season but the league leaders have lost experienced ’keeper Roy Carroll, which could loosen the home side’s defence that leaked two goals to Glentoran last Monday night. Still, home advantage could be enough here.
Warrenpoint Town v Queen’s University
QUEEN’S are leading the way in the Premier Intermediate and are a very well drilled side under Peter Thompson. They took out Lisburn Distillery (6-0) in the previous round but their Irish Premiership hosts should be savvy enough progress.
Prediction: Warrenpoint Town
Glenavon v Dungannon Swifts
GLENAVON’S league challenge has faltered so they will have a keen eye on reaching another Irish Cup final. The Swifts have taken 10 points out of a possible 12 and will be a stubborn opponent at Mourneview.
Coleraine v Dergview
DERGVIEW head to the north west in hope rather than expectation having edged out Maiden City in the last round. The Bannsiders, Irish Cup holders, should be celebrating a quarter-final slot at 10-to-five.
Ballinamallard United v Carrick Rangers
EVEN though Carrick sit above them in the Championship, the ’Mallards won their last league encounter 3-1 at Taylor’s Avenue back in November. With home advantage, the Ernemen can reach the last eight.
Prediction: Ballinamallard United