Europa League: 'Homework starts now' says Reds boss Paddy McLaughlin

McMenamin
Conor McMenamin opened the scoring with a 25th minute header

Cliftonville boss Paddy McLaughlin says his side have no time to waste as they begin preparations for their Europa League first round qualifying tie against FK Haugesund.

The Reds beat Barry Town 4-0 on Thursday to set up the encounter with the Norwegian side, who they will welcome to Solitude on 11 July.

"We haven't taken anything for granted," said McLaughlin.

"We knew there was a tough game against Barry Town first."

After a scoreless first leg, Cliftonville surged past their Welsh opponents with a convincing display in north Belfast.

First half goals from Conor McMenamin and Joe Gormley put the hosts in the ascendancy before Conor McDermott and Rory Donnelly struck late to seal the win.

Haugesund, who finished fourth in last year's Norwegian Eliteserien, are 13 games into their 2019 campaign and sit ninth having one just one of their last six league matches.

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Reds beat Barry Town to secure Europa League progress

"We haven't taking anything for granted, we knew there was a tough game against Barry Town first," said McLaughlin.

"Obviously we will check out their fixtures and who they have been playing, beyond that we haven't thought about them so the homework starts now."

Irish league finds European success

Ballymena United also secured passage to the first round of Europa League qualifying on Thursday with a 2-0 aggregate win over NSI Runavik.

The continental successes for the Irish League teams has come too late to save the league's third Europa League place, will be lost next season as Uefa's new rules come into effect.

Northern Ireland's ranking of 52nd in the coefficients table following the 2018/19 season means that the domestic league will now only be allocated two spots in the competition.

"For too long we have been getting knocked out of Europe in the first round and it is up to our teams to correct that," said McLaughlin.

"Thankfully both sides have managed to do that. I am delighted that Ballymena were able to get the job done, it is great for the Irish League that the teams are competing in Europe."