Threesy does it as Cliftonville are too hot for Donegal Celtic
Donegal Celtic 1 Cliftonville 3: Cliftonville reignited their Carling Premiership title challenge with a convincing win over Donegal Celtic last night while the focus on the club’s much sought-after striker Rory Donnelly intensified.
It is believed up to seven cross-channel clubs were represented at Celtic Park, among them Arsenal and Leicester City.
Former Arsenal and Northern Ireland international Steve Morrow — now head coach of Arsenal’s Global Academy — was keen to catch a glimpse of Donnelly, who was named among the substitutes.
But Morrow was gone before the second-half got under way with, supposedly, knowledge that Donnelly would not feature.
It is understood the teenager — a Manchester United fan — will travel to Liverpool today to meet with manager Kenny Dalglish.
Certainly, his colleagues playing on a cold evening in west Belfast didn’t need him. They entered the break with a three-goal advantage and were worthy of it too.
Back to winning ways after last week’s defeat to Coleraine broke a run of 10 league wins in a row, Cliftonville joined Portadown in joint-second position — both clubs lying five points behind leaders and champions Linfield.
After Celtic’s Eamon McAllister tested Reds ‘keeper John Connolly, Cliftonville dominated and were in front as early as the 12th minute when Stephen Garrett shrugged off Darren McNamee to send the ball past ‘keeper Robert Robinson and in off the Celtic goalpost.
Veteran striker Chris Scannell, who was proving a headache for Robinson with a series of attempts on goal, finally got his reward in the 33rd minute, sending a powerful header into the Celtic net from close range after Eamon Seydak and Martin Donnelly worked a short corner for the latter to deliver a precision cross for Scannell.
Defender Seydak’s deflected 41st minute shot on goal led to another corner and from it another goal — this time former Celtic defender Ciaran Donaghy rising to head past Robinson — though defender Johnny Harkness should have done better in his attempt to clear the ball off the goal-line.
Stephen McAlorum managed to register an effort from an acute angle and the Hoops started the second-half with more purpose when Ryan Henderson skipped into the goalmouth in the 52nd minute, though after rounding two defenders he hit a weak shot that was comfortably gathered by Connolly.
Celtic substitute and ex-Cliftonville player Mark Burns
pulled one back for Paddy Kelly’s side with his first touch of the ball, a header from a corner just seconds after his 76th minute introduction. But it was too little much too late to prevent Celtic from suffering a shocking eighth league campaign defeat in 11 homes games.
Joe Gormley, the young Cliftonville striker who will take on Rory Donnelly’s mantle at Solitude, came close to scoring a fourth in the 86th minute but dragged his shot across the face of Robinson’s goal.
Donegal Celtic: Robinson, Keegan, Harkness, O’Hara, McAlorum (booked 61; Gowdy 68), Henderson, Bradley (booked 60; Murray 68, booked 87), McAllister, McVeigh, McNamee (Burns 76), O’Connor
Cliftonville: Connolly, Johnston (booked 78), Donaghy, McMullan (Caldwell 73), Scannell, Garrett (Gormley 73), M Donnelly, Smyth (Bradley 64), Seydak, Catney, McVeigh
Referee: Mr Colin Burns (Newtownabbey).