Belfast Telegraph

Decisive Gormley pays the ideal tribute to hero Tommy Breslin as Cliftonville crush Glenavon

Cliftonville 3 Glenavon 1

Clinical edge: Joe Gormley heads home for Cliftonville against Glenavon
Clinical edge: Joe Gormley heads home for Cliftonville against Glenavon
Emotional night: Past and present players paid tribute to former Cliftonville manager Tommy Breslin during last night’s game against Glenavon at Solitude
Ryan Curran

By Conor McLaughlin

Cliftonville blew Glenavon away in a whirlwind first 30 minutes with Joe Gormley hitting a double alongside a magical Ryan Curran strike on a night when the result was almost reduced to a footnote at an emotionally-charged Solitude.

The Reds' first home game since the tragic death of legendary manager Tommy Breslin afforded all associated with the club the opportunity to pay their own tribute to the man who, having shone on the pitch, excelled in the dugout during an iconic four-and-a-half-year reign in north Belfast.

Supporters - who had solemnly filed past floral tributes at the turnstiles en route to their seats - watched on tearfully as Breslin's former assistant, Peter Murray, joined Chris Curran and members of the backroom staff in laying a commemorative wreath on the penalty spot prior to another thunderous applause from spectators, players and officials alike.

In all, current boss Paddy McLaughlin - interviewed and recommended for the job by Breslin back in January - made three changes to the side which rescued a late draw against Coleraine at the weekend, with Aaron Donnelly joining namesakes Ruaidhri Donnelly and Aaron Harkin in the home line-up.

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Emotional night: Past and present players paid tribute to former Cliftonville manager Tommy Breslin during last night’s game against Glenavon at Solitude

Cliftonville laid siege to the visiting goal from the start; the deadlock broken after just three minutes when Ronan Doherty dinked a ball into the middle for Gormley to head past a startled Jonny Tuffey.

Gormley then saw a half-volley deflected wide before registering his second on 28 minutes when he linked up with Ryan Curran before slotting into the net despite Tuffey's best efforts.

Two minutes later, it was three; Curran blasting an unstoppable left-footed drive into the top corner after Ruaidhri Donnelly and Doherty had teamed up smartly in attack.

It should have been 4-0 before the break when Andrew Doyle's error sent Curran through, only for Tuffey to stand his ground and turn the ball behind for a corner.

The half-time introductions of Jack O'Mahony and Andy Mitchell jolted the Lurgan Blues into an improvement in performance but, after Mitchell reduced the arrears with a close-range jab on 53 minutes, they were rarely able to threaten any sort of comeback on a night that - regardless of the result - was always going to belong to Cliftonville.

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