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Full Time

Irish Cup success can inspire Cliftonville to more title glory: Gormley

Tennent's Irish Cup final: Cliftonville v Coleraine, Windsor Park, Saturday, 2.30pm

By Steven Beacom

Joe Gormley believes victory in the Irish Cup final could be the start of something big for the current Cliftonville side.

Ahead of Saturday's decider with Coleraine at Windsor Park, the Reds hero has been reflecting on how a knockout success in his first spell at Solitude drove the club to back-to-back league titles under Tommy Breslin.

The ace marksman would love a similar scenario to occur with Barry Gray's present day team.

"There's nothing better than winning a trophy together as a team as it can really drive you on," said Gormley.

"I remember winning the League Cup in 2013 and we went on to win a couple of league titles and four League Cups in a row. When you win silverware, it motivates you to win more."

The one domestic trophy Gormley has yet to win is the Irish Cup. Mind you, no Cliftonville player has done that since those who played in the 1979 final when the north Belfast outfit beat Portadown 3-2.

"The players in this Cliftonville team weren't even thought about in 1979, never mind born," stated 28-year-old Gormley. "It's a great memory for those Cliftonville fans who have been there and done that, but for us this is a new challenge and opportunity.

"We'll be out there to win it and I know it would mean a lot to lift the Cup, especially to our fans. They have waited a long time to see Cliftonville win it and hopefully we can repay them.

"I've won everything with Cliftonville except the Irish Cup so it's a big motivation."

Returning last summer from a difficult cross-channel experience, when injuries curtailed his professional career, some doubted if Gormley would be as prolific as he was first time around.

No one is doubting him now. He has netted 31 goals this season and in the league was the top scorer with 22 ahead of dynamic Crusaders duo Gavin Whyte and Paul Heatley.

Gormley has enjoyed his new strike partnership with Rory Donnelly, insisting: "Rory does some amount of work up there and he probably doesn't get as much credit as he deserves.

"When we first got together in the summer, there were so many new players and it takes time for the boys to gel and get on track. We've made progress and we know next season will be massive for Cliftonville."

Coleraine will know that, on the big occasion, Gormley tends to deliver having scored six goals in six finals.

Typically modest, the man known as 'Joe the Goal' said: "I've scored in a few finals, but that's what I'm there for. Hopefully I can continue to do so."

Gormley was on target in Cliftonville's last Irish Cup final in 2013 but that ended in a 3-1 defeat to Glentoran when the Reds were chasing a treble after winning the title and League Cup.

"It was a great occasion but it was disappointing we lost," recalled the ex-Peterborough ace. "Coleraine are a great side and Oran Kearney has them playing great football. They are similar to us in the way they play and I think it could be a great final."

Belfast Telegraph

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