Cliftonville 1 Loughgall 1
Stephen Mallon had been out injured since August 2022 before making his Cliftonville comeback against Loughgall
Jim Magilton saluted Stephen Mallon’s “tremendous courage” after the Cliftonville winger brought 13 months of injury hell to a long-awaited end.
Signed from Bohemians in the summer of 2022, Mallon hobbled off in just his fifth appearance for the Reds following what appeared a harmless enough coming-together with Ballymena United defender Steven McCullough.
That innocuous collision led to a quadricep tear which, following a number of aborted comeback attempts, required surgery and a lengthy rehabilitation process which came to a conclusion when the 24-year-old emerged from the bench 75 minutes into Saturday’s 1-1 draw with Loughgall at Solitude.
“I, fortunately, never had to go through that as a player, so I don’t know how they cope to be out for that length of time,” said Magilton, whose side had taken an early lead through Jonny Addis before Jay Boyd’s leveller just past the half-hour mark earned the visitors a battling point.
“He showed tremendous courage to come back in and he deserves all the credit. He’s worked so hard, and I thought he was great.
“We just felt that we could maybe do a little bit more down that side and he certainly provided a real plus for us, and on another day, the chances he created, we take.”
Despite his team dominating possession, Magilton’s men were unable to find a decisive strike.
“It was obviously important that we didn’t lose the game, but we certainly feel it’s two points dropped,” he added.
Loughgall chief Dean Smith wore a beaming smile as he reflected on a start to the season that has seen his side pocket 11 points from a possible 15 on the road.Read on belfasttelegraph.co.uk