Heatley's treble is child's play for Crues
Crusaders 3 Carrick Rangers 1
Crusaders already boasted an impressive squad at Seaview but it's just got even bigger.
There's been a baby boom at the Crues just as the players have a rattle at another title challenge.
Saturday's hat-trick hero against Carrick Rangers, Paul Heatley, may not be called a baby faced assassin by many but the celebration after his opener suggested he's loving the child's play.
"It was a baby celebration with our girl Eva Rose who is seven weeks old, but it wasn't just for myself as it seems half the team are having babies," said Heatley, who has now netted 13 goals in six matches against his former club.
"Three of us have had babies and two are expecting. You can see it in Oggers' (Sean O'Neill) belly, he is due one but joking aside it's a nice celebration for the boys.
"Jordan Forsythe and Michael Carvill have also welcomed new additions to their family while Craig McClean and Sean O'Neill are about to do the same. There's five players from the same school year so it's a baby boom at the Crues. Eva Rose is sleeping well and I couldn't have asked for a more perfect baby.
"I've had an up and down season so I never thought about this celebration before. I scored against Ballinamallard in the league but didn't focus on it, today there was a bit less pressure on us and it's a nice way to celebrate."
Heatley stole the show with goals in the 34th, 38th and 84th minutes, but when Tiernan McNicholl netted 12 minutes after the restart the home side looked edgy and they almost conceded an equaliser when O'Neill had to block McNicholl's drive and Colin Coates had to stop Nathan Hanley from firing in the rebound.
But the champions, who are now four points ahead of nearest challengers Linfield, posed the greater attacking threat and Carrick keeper Brian Neeson pulled off some astonishing saves.
"It's a bitter sweet achievement scoring against Carrick as they are a really special club to me," added Heatley. "At the end of the day you are there to do a job for the club you play for. The players showed their class."
Carrick boss Aaron Callaghan said: "I'm getting to know what players can play in what positions and know their strengths and weaknesses. I learned a lot about my squad."
Crusaders: O'Neill, Burns, Beverland, Coates, McClean, Carvill (Cushley, 70 mins), Forsythe, Mitchell (Gault, 88 mins), Owens, Heatley, Whyte (Clarke, 88 mins). Unused subs: Dougherty, Soares.
Carrick: Neeson, Chapman, McCullough, McKeown, Surgenor (McNally, 56 mins), Taggart (Morrow, 66 mins), M Murray, Wilson (McNicholl, 46 mins), Hanley, TJ Murray, Salley. Unused subs: McCaul, Malcolmson.
Referee: Lee Tavinder (Dungannon).
Man of the match: Paul Heatley
Match rating: 7/10