Belfast Telegraph

I'd rather have had a clean sheet than a hat-trick, insists Cliftonville hero Harney

Cliftonville 4-3 Warrenpoint Town

By Conor McLaughlin

Jamie Harney admitted Cliftonville had plenty to be frustrated about on Saturday - but the Irish Cup's unlikely treble ace said a sixth round berth was all that mattered.

The Reds were pushed all the way by Warrenpoint in a topsy-turvy Solitude showdown that ticked every box - seven goals, two red cards, a comeback, a late equaliser and a manager announcing his shock return to playing… only to be sent off.

At the end, however, Harney reflected: "I'd sooner have taken a 1-0 win and a clean sheet rather than scoring a hat-trick. We're through and that's all that matters.

"The result is the most important thing, but it was a strange game. I'm sure it was great for the neutral to watch because there was so much going on."

Things began straightforwardly enough. Martin Murray gave Town an early lead before skying a sitter. Then Harney popped up with his first goal for Cliftonville before Ross Lavery fired the hosts in front. Then madness broke out.

First, Jaimie McGovern was shown a straight red card by referee Steven Taylor for hitting out at Darren Murray and, in an attempt to ensure their numerical advantage yielded a route back into the contest, Town boss Matthew Tipton introduced himself from the bench. His presence did the trick as Murray rattled in the equaliser with minutes remaining.

Before extra-time came along, however, Tipton was booked for stopping Levi Ives taking a throw-in and picked up a quickfire second yellow card for a foul on Rory Donnelly that sent the teams into 30 further minutes with 10 apiece.

Harney rose highest to send an Ives free-kick past Jonny Parr and put Cliftonville 3-2 in front before the former West Ham starlet prodded home amid a scramble to complete his hat-trick and put the Reds in control - until Darius Roohi pounced to pull one back in the final minutes. That left the hosts clinging on at the end.

CLIFTONVILLE: Neeson, McGovern, Ives, Breen, Harney, Garrett, Bagnall, Winchester, Gormley, Lavery, R Donnelly. Subs: Dunne, Harkin, Hughes, J Donnelly (Lavery, 74mins), Cosgrove (Gormley, 74m), A Donnelly, McDonald (Winchester, 74m).

WARRENPOINT: Parr, Foster, Dane, Murray, McMenamin, Murray, Forde, McKenna, TJ Murray, Wallace, Reilly. Subs: Moan, Lyttle, Tipton (Foster, 78m ), Lynch, Roohi (Reilly, 106m ), McGrandles (McKenna, 57m ), Turker.

Man of match: Jamie Harney

Referee: Steven Taylor (Ballyclare).

Belfast Telegraph

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