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Cliftonville's treble by Donnelly knock out Breda

Cliftonville 6-0 Knockbreda

By Conor McLaughlin

Cliftonville negotiated a potential banana skin tie as Jay Donnelly's treble helped sweep Knockbreda aside at Solitude.

The Reds' rocky start to the season combined with their visitors' fine form led to many observers marking this one down as a possible Co Antrim Shield upset but the Bluefin Sport Championship leaders simply had no answer to their hosts' prowess and were blown away by four goals inside the opening 26 minutes.

Jay's elder brother Rory notched his first strike since returning to the club, as did Ciaran Caldwell, with Ross Lavery also getting in on the act on what was ultimately a comfortable night's work for Barry Gray's men.

Cliftonville may have been out of sight long before the finish, but Knockbreda will surely rue wasting two early opportunities that saw them go close to registering the contest's breakthrough.

First, Ciaran Murray saw an attempt blocked by Chris Ramsey and, when the ball fell favourably for Patrick Cafolla to smash home the rebound, the former Reds frontman saw his strike deflected behind by Levi Ives.

On 12 minutes, the visitors caught Cliftonville napping with a quick free-kick but Conall Young's low drive across the face of goal was grasped by Reds debutant keeper Brian Neeson.

That intervention would prove costly because the ball was in the net at the other end within a minute, Rory Donnelly teeing brother Jay up for a confidently executed finish.

Rory then got on the scoresheet himself when his first-time effort from Lavery's cross crept just beyond the despairing drive of goalkeeper David Ferguson, who was beaten again on 21 minutes when Lavery dodged past Karl Hamill before dispatching a powerful drive home via the post.

It was 4-0 on 26 minutes when Rory once again set Jay up for a well-taken drive and the duo combined once more just past the hour when the former's magnificent cross was headed home by Jay.

The scoring was complete when sub Daniel Hughes threaded Caldwell through for a delightful chip over the advancing Ferguson to finish the game for the Reds in style.

Cliftonville: Neeson, Ives, Ramsey, Harney, Curran, Caldwell, Winchester, J Donnelly, Lavery, Cosgrove, R Donnelly. Subs: Dunne, McGovern, Hughes (J Donnelly, 62 mins), M Donnelly (Curran, 62 mins), Gormley (R Donnelly, 62 mins).

Knockbreda: Ferguson, Hamill, Pike, Patterson, Arthur, McVeigh, Young, Cooling, Cafolla, Murray, Cockroft. Subs: Irwin (Young, 26 mins), Sergeant, Kerr , Walls (Cooling, 66 mins), Culbert (Murray, 46 mins).

Referee: Raymond Crangle (Belfast)

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