Belfast Telegraph

Gray in no doubt that Reds front pair will hit the goal trail


By Alex Mills

Cliftonville boss Barry Gray believes it's only a matter of time before Joe Gormley and Rory Donnelly strike it rich for the Reds!

Although both players have returned from full-time football in England, they have so far struggled to readapt to the requirements of the Irish League.

Potentially, they are the hottest double act in town and Gray is confident they'll soon be terrorising defences up and down the country.

They'll have the chance to do just that against basement strugglers Ballinamallard United at Ferney Park tonight.

A staggering 38 points separates the teams in the Danske Bank Premiership table, which would suggest it could be a satisfactory night at the office for Gray's boys.

Both sides have contrasting agendas. The Reds are striving to muscle in on the money-spinning European places at the top, while the Mallards face the possibility of plummeting through the dreaded relegation trap door.

It could be an ideal opportunity for the Gormley/Donnelly partnership to flourish.

"It's no secret that both lads have yet to hit top form," said Gray. "But it will come, make no mistake about that.

"Don't forget, the boys arrived back at the club not having played a lot of football. Joe has scored something like 13 league goals so far, but he'll be the first one to say they he's still to find his best form.

"They are a work in progress, they are still learning to play together. Yes, they have been at the club previously, but they didn't really play together. We are only 20-odd games in, it's still early days.

"There is no doubt, once they start firing on all cylinders, the goals will flow from both of them. It's not an issue with me. I know it will happen sooner or later."

Gray's decision to let Daniel Hughes leave the Reds for Dungannon Swifts earlier this week is a testament of his belief in Gormley and Donnelly.

"It's difficult keeping everyone happy," he added. "I've known Daniel probably longer than anyone. I liked him as a player and a person, but he scored something like 15 goals in his two years at the club.

"The bottom line was Daniel needed first team football and we were not in a position to guarantee that. It was purely a football decision."

Gray will include new signing Shane Grimes in the squad for tonight's game in County Fermanagh. The experienced defender has had spells with Dundalk, Monaghan United and Drogheda.

"Shane has had only one training session with us, so it would be unfair to throw him in at the deep end," added Gray. "But he'll be in the squad, it will give him the chance to get involved.

"It will be a difficult game. I know Ballinamallard have struggled for results, but Gavin Dykes has been quite active in the January transfer window and has brought in a lot of new faces.

"Although they are sitting rock bottom, they always make things difficult for teams at Ferney Park, so we'll be on our guard -there will certainly be no issues with complacency."

Belfast Telegraph

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