Belfast Telegraph

O'Rourke thrilled to play starring role for Crues

Crusaders 5-0 Dungannon Swifts

Crusaders' Jarlath O'Rourke in action with Dungannon's Caolin Coyle
Crusaders' Jarlath O'Rourke in action with Dungannon's Caolin Coyle

By Graham Luney

Jarlath O'Rourke showed no mercy to his old club as he played a role in four of the five goals that sunk Dungannon Swifts at Seaview.

It was a five-star performance from Crusaders in manager Stephen Baxter's 750th game in charge - and the perfect medicine after the Boxing Day headache dished out by Cliftonville.

Jordan Owens (2), Jordan Forsythe, Jamie McGonigle and Philip Lowry may have scored the goals but left-back O'Rourke stole the show with some scintillating wing play and clever distribution.

"There is good competition for places here and you have to earn the shirt with performances," said O'Rourke.

"I was involved in four of the goals which is nice, especially after scoring on Boxing Day but it was ruled offside.

"That felt like it was a dubious call but it's nice to help the team clock up a good score.

"There's nothing we can do about the first half of the season now.

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"We have to keep performing to stay up there."

With four points separating the top five Premiership sides, it's shaping up to be a thrilling title charge.

"It was a great win," added the full-back.

"In recent matches, we have let leads slip so it was important to win and score goals with a clean sheet thrown in.

"It's always disappointing to lose a derby but a 5-0 win is the right response.

"It's tight at the top and teams like Cliftonville and Glentoran are on a good run.

"We need to kick on and produce a run of wins.

"No team gets it easy and they will all drop points.

"We have to focus on ourselves and keep winning.

"Hopefully come the end of the season we will be in the mix.

"There are too many good sides in the league for just one to run away with it."

Swifts boss Kris Lindsay felt his side were punished for some sloppy defending.

"You know what Jordan Owens does and we let him go free at the back post," said the former Linfield ace.

"We spoke about it before the game but didn't deal with it on the pitch.

"I can accept defeats but what I can't accept is the nature of the defeats.

"We need to turn it around quickly. We've had a good chat and there's a fight on to stay in this league with three teams down there.

"Carrick Rangers have breathing space and the sooner the players get their heads around that the better, I don't think they have yet.

"We have Glentoran next on Wednesday and the Christmas period gives you a chance to quickly address matters but we are down to the bare bones and it's difficult to ask the players to play in highly competitive games in a short period of time."

CRUSADERS: Doherty, Burns (K Owens, 75 mins), Lowry, McGonigle (McGinley, 77 mins), Forsythe, O'Rourke, J Owens (Cushley, 70 mins), Brown, Thompson, Heatley, McElroy 7. Unused subs: O'Neill, Ruddy, Robinson, Mathieson.

Dungannon: Byrne, Coyle, Redman, King, Smyth, Teggart, Patton, Lowe, Carvill (Devlin, 78 mins), McGuinness, Gallagher (Wade, 55 mins). Unused subs: Taylor, Noble, Strain, Campbell, Conway.

Referee: Arnold Hunter (Maguiresbridge)

Man of the match: Jarlath O'Rourke

Match rating: 6/10

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