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Cliftonville pull off spectacular County Antrim Shield win with two goals after 95 minutes

Cliftonville 2-1 Ballymena United

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Cliftonville's Joe Gormley and Chris Curran celebrate winning the Co Antrim Shield

Cliftonville's Joe Gormley and Chris Curran celebrate winning the Co Antrim Shield

Cliftonville won the County Antrim Shield in the most spectacular of circumstances on Tuesday evening

Cliftonville won the County Antrim Shield in the most spectacular of circumstances on Tuesday evening

©INPHO/PressEye.com/Jonathan Po

County Antrim Shield Final -  Windsor Park.  21.01.20

Cliftonville FC vs Ballymena United

Cliftonville celebrate after wining the final 2-1 and lift the shield. 

Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Jonathan Porter

County Antrim Shield Final - Windsor Park. 21.01.20 Cliftonville FC vs Ballymena United Cliftonville celebrate after wining the final 2-1 and lift the shield. Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Jonathan Porter

©INPHO/PressEye.com/Jonathan Po

County Antrim Shield Final -  Windsor Park.  21.01.20

Cliftonville FC vs Ballymena United

Cliftonville celebrate after wining the final 2-1 and lift the shield. 

Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Jonathan Porter

County Antrim Shield Final - Windsor Park. 21.01.20 Cliftonville FC vs Ballymena United Cliftonville celebrate after wining the final 2-1 and lift the shield. Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Jonathan Porter

©INPHO/PressEye.com/Jonathan Po

County Antrim Shield Final -  Windsor Park.  21.01.20

Cliftonville FC vs Ballymena United

Cliftonville celebrate after wining the final 2-1 and lift the shield. 

Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Jonathan Porter

County Antrim Shield Final - Windsor Park. 21.01.20 Cliftonville FC vs Ballymena United Cliftonville celebrate after wining the final 2-1 and lift the shield. Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Jonathan Porter

©INPHO/PressEye.com/Jonathan Po

PACEMAKER BELFAST 21/01/2020
Cliftonville v Ballymena County Antrim Shield Final
Cliftonville's  Jamie Harney    celebrates winning the Co Antrim Shield Final this evening at Windsor Park in Belfast.
Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press

PACEMAKER BELFAST 21/01/2020 Cliftonville v Ballymena County Antrim Shield Final Cliftonville's Jamie Harney celebrates winning the Co Antrim Shield Final this evening at Windsor Park in Belfast. Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press

PACEMAKER BELFAST 21/01/2020
Cliftonville v Ballymena County Antrim Shield Final
Cliftonville's  Jamie Harney    celebrates winning the Co Antrim Shield Final this evening at Windsor Park in Belfast.
Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press

PACEMAKER BELFAST 21/01/2020 Cliftonville v Ballymena County Antrim Shield Final Cliftonville's Jamie Harney celebrates winning the Co Antrim Shield Final this evening at Windsor Park in Belfast. Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press

PACEMAKER BELFAST 21/01/2020
Cliftonville v Ballymena County Antrim Shield Final
Cliftonville's Joe Gormley and Chris Curran   celebrate winning the Co Antrim Shield Final this evening at Windsor Park in Belfast.
Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press

PACEMAKER BELFAST 21/01/2020 Cliftonville v Ballymena County Antrim Shield Final Cliftonville's Joe Gormley and Chris Curran celebrate winning the Co Antrim Shield Final this evening at Windsor Park in Belfast. Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press

PACEMAKER PRESS BELFAST 
21/1/2020 
Toals Co. Antrim Shield 2019/20 
Cliftonville celebrations after tonight's win over Ballymena United at Windsor Park. Captain Joseph Gormley lifts the trophy.
Photo Laura Davison/Pacemaker Press

PACEMAKER PRESS BELFAST 21/1/2020 Toals Co. Antrim Shield 2019/20 Cliftonville celebrations after tonight's win over Ballymena United at Windsor Park. Captain Joseph Gormley lifts the trophy. Photo Laura Davison/Pacemaker Press

PACEMAKER PRESS BELFAST 
21/1/2020 
Toals Co. Antrim Shield 2019/20 
Cliftonville celebrations after tonight's win over Ballymena United at Windsor Park. 
Photo Laura Davison/Pacemaker Press

PACEMAKER PRESS BELFAST 21/1/2020 Toals Co. Antrim Shield 2019/20 Cliftonville celebrations after tonight's win over Ballymena United at Windsor Park. Photo Laura Davison/Pacemaker Press

PACEMAKER PRESS BELFAST 
21/1/2020 
Toals Co. Antrim Shield 2019/20 
Cliftonville celebrations after tonight's win over Ballymena United at Windsor Park. 
Photo Laura Davison/Pacemaker Press

PACEMAKER PRESS BELFAST 21/1/2020 Toals Co. Antrim Shield 2019/20 Cliftonville celebrations after tonight's win over Ballymena United at Windsor Park. Photo Laura Davison/Pacemaker Press

PACEMAKER PRESS BELFAST 
21/1/2020 
Toals Co. Antrim Shield 2019/20 
Cliftonville celebrations after tonight's win over Ballymena United at Windsor Park. 
Photo Laura Davison/Pacemaker Press

PACEMAKER PRESS BELFAST 21/1/2020 Toals Co. Antrim Shield 2019/20 Cliftonville celebrations after tonight's win over Ballymena United at Windsor Park. Photo Laura Davison/Pacemaker Press

PACEMAKER PRESS BELFAST 
21/1/2020 
Toals Co. Antrim Shield 2019/20 
Cliftonville celebrations after tonight's win over Ballymena United at Windsor Park. 
Photo Laura Davison/Pacemaker Press

PACEMAKER PRESS BELFAST 21/1/2020 Toals Co. Antrim Shield 2019/20 Cliftonville celebrations after tonight's win over Ballymena United at Windsor Park. Photo Laura Davison/Pacemaker Press

PACEMAKER BELFAST 21/01/2020
Cliftonville v Ballymena County Antrim Shield Final
Cliftonville's  Thomas Maguire    celebrates  winning the Co Antrim Shield Final this evening at Windsor Park in Belfast.
Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press

PACEMAKER BELFAST 21/01/2020 Cliftonville v Ballymena County Antrim Shield Final Cliftonville's Thomas Maguire celebrates winning the Co Antrim Shield Final this evening at Windsor Park in Belfast. Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press

PACEMAKER BELFAST 21/01/2020
Cliftonville v Ballymena County Antrim Shield Final
Cliftonville's  Jamie Harney    celebrates winning the Co Antrim Shield Final this evening at Windsor Park in Belfast.
Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press

PACEMAKER BELFAST 21/01/2020 Cliftonville v Ballymena County Antrim Shield Final Cliftonville's Jamie Harney celebrates winning the Co Antrim Shield Final this evening at Windsor Park in Belfast. Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press

PACEMAKER BELFAST 21/01/2020
Cliftonville v Ballymena County Antrim Shield Final
Cliftonville's  Joe Gormley and Chris Curran     celebrates  winning the Co Antrim Shield Final this evening at Windsor Park in Belfast.
Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press

PACEMAKER BELFAST 21/01/2020 Cliftonville v Ballymena County Antrim Shield Final Cliftonville's Joe Gormley and Chris Curran celebrates winning the Co Antrim Shield Final this evening at Windsor Park in Belfast. Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press

PACEMAKER BELFAST 21/01/2020
Cliftonville v Ballymena County Antrim Shield Final
Cliftonville's Joe Gormley and Chris Curran   celebrate winning the Co Antrim Shield Final this evening at Windsor Park in Belfast.
Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press

PACEMAKER BELFAST 21/01/2020 Cliftonville v Ballymena County Antrim Shield Final Cliftonville's Joe Gormley and Chris Curran celebrate winning the Co Antrim Shield Final this evening at Windsor Park in Belfast. Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press

PACEMAKER BELFAST 21/01/2020
Cliftonville v Ballymena County Antrim Shield Final
Cliftonville's Joe Gormley and Chris Curran   celebrate winning the Co Antrim Shield Final this evening at Windsor Park in Belfast.
Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press

PACEMAKER BELFAST 21/01/2020 Cliftonville v Ballymena County Antrim Shield Final Cliftonville's Joe Gormley and Chris Curran celebrate winning the Co Antrim Shield Final this evening at Windsor Park in Belfast. Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press

PACEMAKER BELFAST 21/01/2020
Cliftonville v Ballymena County Antrim Shield Final
Cliftonville's Joe Gormley and Chris Curran   celebrate winning the Co Antrim Shield Final this evening at Windsor Park in Belfast.
Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press

PACEMAKER BELFAST 21/01/2020 Cliftonville v Ballymena County Antrim Shield Final Cliftonville's Joe Gormley and Chris Curran celebrate winning the Co Antrim Shield Final this evening at Windsor Park in Belfast. Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press

PACEMAKER BELFAST 21/01/2020
Cliftonville v Ballymena County Antrim Shield Final
Cliftonville's Joe Gormley and Chris Curran   celebrate winning the Co Antrim Shield Final this evening at Windsor Park in Belfast.
Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press

PACEMAKER BELFAST 21/01/2020 Cliftonville v Ballymena County Antrim Shield Final Cliftonville's Joe Gormley and Chris Curran celebrate winning the Co Antrim Shield Final this evening at Windsor Park in Belfast. Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press

County Antrim Shield Final -  Windsor Park.  21.01.20

Cliftonville FC vs Ballymena United

Cliftonville celebrate after they score in the last minute to win 2-1. 

Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Jonathan Porter

County Antrim Shield Final - Windsor Park. 21.01.20 Cliftonville FC vs Ballymena United Cliftonville celebrate after they score in the last minute to win 2-1. Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Jonathan Porter

©INPHO/PressEye.com/Jonathan Po

County Antrim Shield Final -  Windsor Park.  21.01.20

Cliftonville FC vs Ballymena United

Cliftonville celebrate after wining the final 2-1 and lift the shield.  Joe Gormley pictured with the shield. 

Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Jonathan Porter

County Antrim Shield Final - Windsor Park. 21.01.20 Cliftonville FC vs Ballymena United Cliftonville celebrate after wining the final 2-1 and lift the shield. Joe Gormley pictured with the shield. Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Jonathan Porter

©INPHO/PressEye.com/Jonathan Po

County Antrim Shield Final -  Windsor Park.  21.01.20

Cliftonville FC vs Ballymena United

CliftonvilleÕs Conor McMenamin with BallymenaÕs Jude Wincherster

Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Jonathan Porter

County Antrim Shield Final - Windsor Park. 21.01.20 Cliftonville FC vs Ballymena United CliftonvilleÕs Conor McMenamin with BallymenaÕs Jude Wincherster Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Jonathan Porter

©INPHO/PressEye.com/Jonathan Po

Ballymena skipper Leroy Millar (left) celebrates his goal.

Ballymena skipper Leroy Millar (left) celebrates his goal.

Ballymena goal-scorer Leroy Millar celebrates with Andy McGrory, who had contributed the assist.

Ballymena goal-scorer Leroy Millar celebrates with Andy McGrory, who had contributed the assist.

County Antrim Shield Final -  Windsor Park.  21.01.20

Cliftonville FC vs Ballymena United

BallymenaÕs celebrate after scoring to make it 0-1. 

Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Jonathan Porter

County Antrim Shield Final - Windsor Park. 21.01.20 Cliftonville FC vs Ballymena United BallymenaÕs celebrate after scoring to make it 0-1. Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Jonathan Porter

©INPHO/PressEye.com/Jonathan Po

County Antrim Shield Final -  Windsor Park.  21.01.20

Cliftonville FC vs Ballymena United

CliftonvilleÕs Ronan Doherty with BallymenaÕs Andrew McGrory

Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Jonathan Porter

County Antrim Shield Final - Windsor Park. 21.01.20 Cliftonville FC vs Ballymena United CliftonvilleÕs Ronan Doherty with BallymenaÕs Andrew McGrory Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Jonathan Porter

©INPHO/PressEye.com/Jonathan Po

County Antrim Shield Final -  Windsor Park.  21.01.20

Cliftonville FC vs Ballymena United

Cliftonville’s Garry Breen with Ballymena’s Adam Lecky

Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Jonathan Porter

County Antrim Shield Final - Windsor Park. 21.01.20 Cliftonville FC vs Ballymena United Cliftonville’s Garry Breen with Ballymena’s Adam Lecky Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Jonathan Porter

©INPHO/PressEye.com/Jonathan Po

County Antrim Shield Final -  Windsor Park.  21.01.20

Cliftonville FC vs Ballymena United

Cliftonville’s Garry Breen with Ballymena’s Adam Lecky

Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Jonathan Porter

County Antrim Shield Final - Windsor Park. 21.01.20 Cliftonville FC vs Ballymena United Cliftonville’s Garry Breen with Ballymena’s Adam Lecky Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Jonathan Porter

©INPHO/PressEye.com/Jonathan Po

PACEMAKER BELFAST 21/01/2020
Cliftonville v Ballymena County Antrim Shield Final
Cliftonville's Jamie Harney   and Ballymena's  Adam Lecky during this evening's game at Windsor Park in Belfast.
Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press

PACEMAKER BELFAST 21/01/2020 Cliftonville v Ballymena County Antrim Shield Final Cliftonville's Jamie Harney and Ballymena's Adam Lecky during this evening's game at Windsor Park in Belfast. Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press

PACEMAKER BELFAST 21/01/2020
Cliftonville v Ballymena County Antrim Shield Final
Cliftonville's Conor McMenamin  and Ballymena's  James Knowles during this evening's game at Windsor Park in Belfast.
Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press

PACEMAKER BELFAST 21/01/2020 Cliftonville v Ballymena County Antrim Shield Final Cliftonville's Conor McMenamin and Ballymena's James Knowles during this evening's game at Windsor Park in Belfast. Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press

Cliftonville boss Paddy McLaughlin and Ballymena United manager David Jeffrey

Cliftonville boss Paddy McLaughlin and Ballymena United manager David Jeffrey

Cliftonville's Joe Gormley and Chris Curran celebrate winning the Co Antrim Shield

What a finish. This was an astonishing County Antrim Shield triumph for Cliftonville and heartbreak for Ballymena United.

The Sky Blues were leading the final thanks to a second half goal from Leroy Millar. They looked sure to lift the trophy as the clock ticked down at Windsor Park.

Then came extraordinary drama. In the 96th minute substitute Thomas Maguire netted an equaliser and in the 97th Ryan Curran, who had also come off the bench, scored the winner.

Ballymena boss David Jeffrey was stunned that seven minutes of injury time was played. Cliftonville counterpart Paddy McLaughlin was celebrating like crazy as he secured his first silverware as Reds boss.

McLaughlin is a fervent Liverpool fan but the ending at Windsor was more akin to Manchester United's amazing 1999 Champions League final success over Bayern Munich when the Red Devils scored twice in the dying moments.

Ballymena can consider themselves extremely unfortunate with players like Jonny Addis and Millar standing out but Cliftonville showed immense character when all seemed lost.

The Reds kept going and were rewarded in staggering fashion.

They entered the final as favourites but on the back of defeats in their previous two fixtures - first there was a disappointing performance in the Sky Sports encounter at home to Linfield which the Reds lost 2-1 and that was followed by a 1-0 reverse at Carrick Rangers on Saturday.

From being top of the table earlier in the month they have dropped to fifth. On the upside they are only three points behind leaders Glentoran.

Prior to the Windsor showdown there had been debate about whether McLaughlin would play record goalscorer Joe Gormley, who has been troubled by a hamstring issue lately.

Gormley was named in the starting XI in an attacking line-up which included Ruaidhri Donnelly and new signing Michael McCrudden.

Ballymena, who were beaten 3-0 by Glenavon in their last outing, were without influential skipper Jim Ervin who was injured in the Showgrounds encounter at the weekend.

They were looking to Adam Lecky and Cathair Friel to deliver in front of goal as they have done so often under Jeffrey.

Cliftonville made a lively start with Gormley and Conor McMenamin prominent but it was Ballymena who went closest to scoring in the early exchanges when first a dangerous James Knowles free-kick caused consternation in the Reds box and almost allowed Lecky to break the deadlock. Next a wicked corner was headed goalward by Friel and blocked on the line.

At the other end McMenamin had a couple of strikes from distance easily dealt with by Jordan Williamson.

McMenamin was involved again on 37 minutes when Williamson was called upon to make an excellent stop to deny McCrudden after fantastic play from the impressive Conor McDermott.

That was the last noteworthy in a first period that promised much but fizzled out.

The Reds were forced into a change at the beginning of the second period with Seanan Foster replacing injured centre-back Garry Breen. Foster took over at right-back with McDermott moving to the middle of the defence.

The opening opportunity in the second half fell to Cliftonville striker Donnelly after a quickfire break from McMenamin and Gormley but he hesitated and was crowded out.

McLaughlin's side were left to rue that missed chance on 54 minutes when the Sky Blues took the lead. Millar, wearing the captain's armband in the absence of Ervin, was the man on the scoresheet finishing with aplomb from close range at the back post after a delicious delivery from Andy McGrory.

That was the last noteworthy in a first period that promised much but fizzled out.

The Reds were forced into a change at the beginning of the second period with Seanan Foster replacing injured centre-back Garry Breen. Foster took over at right-back with McDermott moving to the middle of the defence.

The opening opportunity in the second half fell to Cliftonville striker Donnelly after a quickfire break from McMenamin and Gormley but he hesitated and was crowded out.

McLaughlin's side were left to rue that missed chance on 54 minutes when the Sky Blues took the lead. Millar, wearing the captain's armband in the absence of Ervin, was the man on the scoresheet finishing with aplomb from close range at the back post after a delicious delivery from Andy McGrory.

The Ballymena United wide man produced a glorious cross from the right flank which was begging to be turned in and Millar did just that racing to McGrory to celebrate after the finish.

Millar fired wide moments later before Gormley looked sure to equalise as the game opened up. With the large Cliftonville support preparing to celebrate Williamson pulled off a brilliant save at his near post.

The north Belfast side were desperately trying to exert some pressure but with Addis outstanding at the back for United they were having no joy. Another hero for the Sky Blues was Steven McCullough who suffered a head injury but played on with a bandage.

Ballymena had chances to seal it before the board showed seven minutes of injury time.

That offered Cliftonville hope. On 96 Maguire hit the net after McMenamin's effort had been saved by Williamson. Seconds later fellow substitute Ryan Curran found the net inside the box with a clever finish sparking crazy, joyful scenes amongst those in Red.

Incredible. Shield success for Cliftonville. Now they will look for more in the league title race and Irish Cup.

CLIFTONVILLE: Brush, McDermott, Breen (Foster 46), Harney, R Donnelly, McCrudden (Maguire 81), Bagnall (Curran 68), Doherty, Gormley, McMenamin, A Donnelly. Subs not used: Dunne, Ives, Wilson, McCurry.

BALLYMENA UNITED: Williamson, Addis, Whiteside, Friel, Knowles (Kelly 88), McCullough, Andrew Burns (Reece Glendinning) 50, McGrory, Winchester (Aaron Burns 90), Lecky, Millar. Subs not used: Ross Glendinning, Kane, Carville, Lavery.

Referee: Raymond Crangle

Man of the match: Jonny Addis (Ballymena United)

Here's the game as it happened with Gareth Hanna's live updates:

Belfast Telegraph