Belfast Telegraph

Joe Gormley reveals Dungannon defender's dread as Cliftonville striker hits 200 landmark

Joe Gormley was against the star for the Reds.
Joe Gormley was against the star for the Reds.
Gareth Hanna

By Gareth Hanna

Every Irish League defender will be able to empathise with the Dungannon Swifts man's feeling when Joe Gormley got through on goal.

Cliftonville's top marksman bagged a nine minute hat-trick to lead his side to a 5-0 success at Solitude on Saturday afternoon, the second goal his 200th for the club.

It's been a long-discussed landmark as the 29-year-old bore down on his second century in recent weeks.

The Swifts had managed to get in at half-time 0-0 but, when Gormley was finally played through on 50 minutes, the defence knew what was coming.

"I think I heard the defender saying 'oh God'," he laughed on Radio Ulster.

"It was a ball over the top and Rory (Donnelly) flicked it on. It was amazing by him. I dare say any defender coming up against his heading abilities finds it tough."

The outcome, the unnamed Swifts man knew, was inevitable.

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The same could easily have been said when a long-ball set up the landmark strike five minutes later, or when Conor McDermott's cross found the main man soon after for the hat-trick.

201 not out and Gormley is rightly confident there's plenty more still to come.

"I think it was only a matter of time," he said of his 200 club goals. "I wasn't going to put myself under pressure to score. I thought that throughout the season the boys have been good at creating chances for me so I knew they'd continue to set up and just hoped I could repay them by scoring.

"I'm delighted to get over the line and now I'm on the way to 300."

Grabbing the fifth goal was Cliftonville's newest attacking star Conor McMenamin, who now has four goals in 10 Premiership starts this term.

"Conor's a super player," Gormley continued. "Whenever Paddy came in, he gave him that bit of confidence. People stop me in the street, even an assistant manager of another team, to talk about what a player he is.

"He's only going to get better and he's a star already."

At the other end of the pitch, the Reds has the tightest defence in the league, conceding only eight times in their 13 outings.

"That's serious going and it's a credit to Brushy (goalkeeper Richard Brush) and the four boys at the back," said Joe. "I think we could probably score more whereas last year we were lacking by conceding. This year it's the opposite problem. The boys at the back have been super and long may it continue."

As long as they do their job, they can rest assured the name nicknamed 'The Goal' will more often than not do his.

Little wonder Cliftonville, just one point behind Coleraine, are right in the mix for the title.

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