Cliftonville got the win they needed over Ballinamallard United to clock up a new record Premiership points tally and officially start Solitude’s champagne celebrations — but those weren’t the only cause for celebration in north Belfast.
Chris Scannell’s late introduction from the subs’ bench had the home faithful on their feet as the skipper’s lengthy rehabilitation from a torn Achilles tendon was not enough to prevent him playing his part in the club’s big day.
The occasion was never likely to hit the heights of their title- clinching epic a fortnight ago and, though the mood round the ground was relaxed throughout a 90 minutes that were almost a sideshow ahead of the main event, the atmosphere was predominantly celebratory as fans young and old turned out in their numbers to finally watch Tommy Breslin’s heroes get their hands on the Gibson Cup.
It has been some 15 years since the famous old trophy last graced the north Belfast venue and an attendance of 1879 -which just so happens to be the year of Cliftonville’s formation -was every bit as keen as the players on making up for lost time as a series of adopted tunes blasted out from the sound system.
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