Belfast Telegraph

Watch: Cliftonville must beat Glenavon to continue title challenge, says Joe Gormley

Joe Gormley speaks to the Belfast Telegraph
Joe Gormley speaks to the Belfast Telegraph
Gareth Hanna

By Gareth Hanna

Cliftonville's record goal-scorer Joe Gormley says any slip up at home to Glenavon on Saturday could end his side's Danske Bank Premiership title challenge.

While Linfield take on Crusaders at Windsor, there's another mammoth clash at Solitude as the Reds, in fifth, welcome third placed Glenavon.

A win for the Lurgan Blues would open up a nine point gap on their hosts, who could end the day as many as 13 points off league leaders Ballymena.

Conversely, a win and the gap to third place would be as little as four points for Gormley's side.

Watch: Cliftonville Football Club striker Joe Gormley and Glenavon FC midfielder Sammy Clingan preview the two sides'...

Posted by Belfast Telegraph Sport on Friday, December 7, 2018

It's little wonder the goal-scorer is placing so much importance on the game.

"I think the top six teams are still thinking they can challenge for the title," he said. "We have to win tomorrow and that's it. If we don't win, it's going to make it impossible for us to win (the league) but you never know. We'll see how we get on tomorrow and take it from there."

Gormley scored twice in last week's 5-1 victory over Dungannon Swifts, his first goal a particularly smashing first-time strike that flew into the top corner.

"It was just one of those days when everything we hit went in," smiled the typically modest striker. "Hopefully we can continue that and the good form we've shown at home. You never know what can happen."

Glenavon midfielder Sammy Clingan is unlikely to play as his manager Gary Hamilton is unwilling to risk the former Northern Ireland midfielder on synthetic surfaces. Nonetheless, he knows results in these sort of games could prove the difference in a thrilling title chase.

"I think it's for everyone to see that nobody's running away with it this year," he said. "You saw last year that Crusaders and Coleraine ran away with it and Coleraine were unlucky not to win the league. It's a good league, really entertaining. Yes, we've hit a bit of a bad spell but hopefully it's our one and only this season and we can get back to winning ways.

"It's going to be a difficult game going to Solitude, against Cliftonville and a player who scores goals like Joe. Hopefully he'll be off-form tomorrow and then he can continue it after after we play them."

While Joe now has 23 goals this season, 11 shy of the 34 total last season that has become his personal target for this campaign, Clingan's grateful for his recent goal against Ards.

"It's not like me to score goals if it's not from a set-piece," he said. "It's great. I just want to help the team as much as possible. I've got to keep myself fit from now until the end of the season and see where that takes us."

Belfast men Gormley and Clingan were speaking at a cross-community football tournament, hosted at St Malachy's by Head Boy and Glenavon prospect Paddy Burns, brother of Hearts player Bobby.

We'll have more on the tournament next week.

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