Belfast Telegraph

Crusaders set to face no ordinary Joe Gormley

By Graham Luney

Cliftonville may have waved farewell to their hopes of winning three championships in a row but they do still have the man who can torpedo the title dreams of Crusaders or Linfield.

Tommy Breslin's side are focused on Europa League qualification rather than more Gibson Cup glory but in front of goal it's business as usual with Joe 'the goal' Gormley slicing open defences.

The Ardoyne goal machine will be gunning for the Crues at Solitude tomorrow and even without his trusted sidekick Liam Boyce this season, he is still the league's most ruthless finisher.

Tomorrow's north-Belfast derby will see the league's top two hitmen go head to head with Jordan Owens (26) and Gormley (29) in their own race to finish top goalscorer.

Only Cristiano Ronaldo (36) and Lionel Messi (32) are above the Reds goal-getter in the European hotshots league.

Cliftonville have won the League Cup for the third season running and added the County Antrim Shield to their busy-looking trophy cabinet but letting go of the Gibson Cup will hurt the Red Army and European qualification and the riches it brings will be a consolation prize worth having.

Gormley, now the fourth all-time goalscorer at the club, has netted five hat-tricks this season and his tally in all competitions is 39.

Last season he only scored 37!

Breslin said: "Joe is a dream to work with. A nice guy who is revered by his team-mates and he's never caused me any worries.

"He works with children who have learning difficulties and he's a kind-hearted boy who has matured as a player and person.

"He's in charge of the music in the dressing room and his taste hasn't improved but on the pitch he has really banged in the goals and that's despite having different strike partners.

"You think of the great partnerships in Irish League football like Peter Thompson and Glenn Ferguson but Joe lost his partner Liam Boyce and had to battle on with five or six different strikers.

"He just loves scoring goals and the other good thing is that the talk of Northern Ireland call-ups and possible cross-channel moves never went to his head and he's just remained focused on scoring goals for Cliftonville.

"That's all he has to do and it could still open more doors for him."

The 24-year-old pipped his team-mates Boyce and Ryan Catney to the BT Sport Player of the Year title, voted by football writers, and was also named Castlereagh Glentoran Supporters' Club Ulster Player of the Year.

The presentation of the 2015 Ulster Player of the Year award will take place at Stormont on April 24 with Sports Minister Caral Ni Chuilin rolling out the welcome mat for the winner.

Bobby Carlisle, who chairs the selection panel for the award, said: "It's the 65th anniversary of the award with a wonderful list of previous winners, many of whom will be present this year so we wanted to do something special."

The presentation ceremony for the prestigious award will be at La Mon House Hotel on Friday, May 8 and Capitol Foods have agreed to be the main sponsor.

Belfast Telegraph


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