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Ciftonville will not be ordinary without Joe Gormley: Tommy Breslin

By Graham Luney

Tommy Breslin has heard it all before. How will Ciftonville prosper without Rory Donnelly? Then it was Liam Boyce. Now it's Joe Gormley.

No player is bigger than the club they say but Irish League observers have to conclude the Solitude side is weaker without Gormley - who smashed in 41 goals last season - and Boyce who departed for Ross County the previous summer.

Gormley is settling into his new surroundings at Peterborough, leaving behind a Red Army chewing their fingernails and wondering if Cliftonville can reign as kings of the domestic game again.

When back to back title winners, Breslin's side were feared but they missed out on European qualification this year as neighbours Crusaders came home first.

Gormley's departure has given more ammunition to the doubters but Cliftonville fans won't worry too much about that. After all, they have made the critics eat humble pie before.

"People have said we are victims of our own success but that is what we are all about - we are working in part-time football and we are committed to developing players so they have a chance to play at a higher level," said the Reds boss.

"The progress of Rory Donnelly, Liam Boyce and Joe Gormley proves we are doing something right and it's great that, in our own small way, we are helping the boys progress in their careers.

"Players move on like Angel Di Maria leaving Manchester United. Life goes on and clubs carry on. Rory, Liam and Joe are an inspiration to other players and you hope they come through and show they can make it as well.

"This club is part of the north Belfast community and proud of its record in giving young players a stage to do well in the game. The boys left on good terms and we wish them well."

And Breslin comes up with fighting talk when he learns his side are being labelled as also rans in some quarters. Crusaders and Linfield will again challenge for the title according to many fans and pundits.

"We want our title back and we have silenced the doubters before," added Breslin.

"People can write us off in the title race if they want but I can see the camaraderie in the camp and togetherness and I know what this team is capable of.

"Three or four years before that, people were questioning whether a Cliftonville side could ever step up to that level but we lived the dream and achieved our goals."

Regardless of how Cliftonville's pursuit of wantaway Portadown striker Darren Murray pans out, Reds fans will be hoping Davy McDaid and Jay Donnelly can continue to terrorise defences.

Breslin added: "There's no getting away from the fact we have lost two goal machines in Liam and Joe, but Davy McDaid and Jay Donnelly can deliver for us.

"We have attacking options such as Davy, Jay, Stevie Garrett, Marty Murray, Chris Curran and Marty Donnelly. That's a pretty good line-up.

"We have young lads such as Andrew Mooney and Johnny McMurray who are also pushing for selection so we will score plenty of goals."

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