Belfast Telegraph

Cliftonville send Dundela packing as Gormley fires treble

By Conor McLoughlin

Cliftonville 5 Dundela 0: Joe Gormley's mum threatened to ground her son for a month after being struck by a wayward volley in the striker's pre-match warm-up – but boss Tommy Breslin will be praying for leniency after the 22-year-old rediscovered his scoring touch with a hat-trick to ease Cliftonville past Dundela.

His treble, in addition to conversions from Liam Boyce and Chris Curran, ended Irish League football's last remaining unbeaten record to book the holders' place in the quarter-final draw.

Dundela's bid to preserve that fine statistic certainly bore historical positives, with Michael Halliday – no stranger to Solitude heroics with Glentoran in this very competition – leading the line alongside fellow Oval starlet Carl McComb.

At the other end of the park, central defender Kyle Owens was hoping to follow in the footsteps of big brother Jordan, who made a goalscoring contribution as Crusaders extended Cliftonville's recent wobble with north Belfast derby success at the weekend.

Keen to arrest that slide in fortunes and wary of the threat posed by their opponents, Breslin named a strong starting XI with the only changes from Saturday seeing Gormley and George McMullan restored to the line-up in place of Martin Donnelly and Tomas Cosgrove, while goalkeeper Ryan Brown came in for the suspended Conor Devlin.

Chastised for their failure to register a single shot on target against the Crues, Cliftonville certainly wasted no time in making their mark on this occasion with Boyce nodding home a smart Stephen Garret cross with just three minutes on the clock.

Dundela threatened a quickfire response but Brown did well to scramble McComb's effort away from goal ahead of opposite number Jonathan Sergeant repelling a fierce Boyce drive from distance.

The home advantage should have been doubled on 14 minutes when defensive confusion allowed Curran to waltz through on goal and, though his attempts to round Sergeant ended with the tricky winger taking a tumble, referee Ian McNabb adjudged the keeper's touch on the ball sufficient to dismiss any penalty appeal.

Halliday then glanced a header inches wide of the post before a fine flowing move involving Barry Johnston and Garrett ended with Boyce producing a shot which Scott Collins cleared off the line.

Daniel Burns almost forced a Dundela equaliser when he put Brown under pressure from a Jaimie McGovern backpass but the keeper did enough to clear his lines before Cliftonville moved 2-0 ahead with 29 minutes gone.

Curran's corner wasn't properly cleared and, when the ball sat up invitingly for Gormley, the striker got his technique spot on to end his recent goal drought.

Curran looked set to plunder a third before the interval but Sergeant did well to catch his reaction header, only for the ex-Ballinamallard man to finally bag his first goal in new colours from a Gormley assist just a minute after the re-start of the game.

Gormley netted again with four minutes left on the clock and still had time to claim the matchball when he reacted quickest to fire into the roof of the net after McMullan's glancing header had come back off the crossbar.

CLIFTONVILLE: Brown, McGovern, R Scannell, Johnston, Caldwell, McMullan, Garrett, Catney, Gormley, Curran, Boyce. Subs: McNally (for Caldwell, 62 mins), Donnelly, McNeill (for Johnston, 59 mins), Murray (for Garrett, 71 mins).

DUNDELA: Sergeant, Collins, Davison, Cherry, Owens, Ferguson, Irwin, Gilliland, McComb, Halliday, Burns. Subs: McCullough (for Ferguson, 46 mins), Murphy (for Davison, 59 mins), Beggs, Black, Jackson (for Gilliland, 55 mins).

Referee: Ian McNabb (Newtownabbey).

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