Cliftonville elation after last-gasp final victory over Ballymena

Cliftonville Football And Athletic Club

It will be the tallest of orders for Cliftonville – fifth in the league standings — to scoop an armful of silverware this season…but in football, you’ll know it’s definitely a case of “never say never”.

And if you listen to Cliftonville striker Joe Gormley you’d have those sentiments reinforced. After he took part in a dramatic County Antrim Shield final victory last night, Gormley was in confident mood that his side can walk off with trophies galore. He had just contributed to a triumph that came as Cliftonville grabbed two goals in the last two minutes to shock Ballymena United 2-1 at Windsor Park.

And the Reds’ attacker, captain for the night, said:

“We never know when we are beaten to be fair and hopefully this will now be the start of a lot of success for us. We have a never-say-die attitude and want to try and win everything we are involved in. The fighting spirit amongst this group of players in unbelievable.”

He went on to say that the victory was an unbelievable achievement for the club, and mentioned that for him especially — a local boy from Ardoyne — to skipper the club he loves and to lift a trophy was “unreal”. He added:

“I’m getting on a bit myself but this squad is young and is capable of going on and doing a lot of things.”

It was, indeed, the most dramatic of wins. It didn’t look good for Cliftonville when, on 54 minutes, the lively Leroy Millar struck superbly to make the score line 1-0. But when Thomas Maguire and Ryan Curran came on as substitutes for the Reds, the whole scenario took a full change of picture entirely. And how!

Because it was the case that both subs scored in a heart-stopping 85 seconds of stoppage time meaning gleeful boss Paddy McLaughlin finally got his hands on his first piece of silverware at the club.

For his defeated counterpart in the shape of Ballymena boss David Jeffrey it was an absolutely agonising way to lose out on silverware. After picking himself up off the floor following the heartache of such a dramatic defeat, he spoke to reporters after the game and said it was

“as cruel a night as I have experienced in all my time playing and managing, adding: “Without a shadow of a doubt, I thought we were excellent.

“To be fair to Crusaders boss Paddy McLaughlin, he said to me, ‘David, we stole it’ –and I have to say that I agree with him entirely. But overall, I thought we defended tremendously well, created chances and I thought it was a great game of football.”

In other news, Derry City have snapped up defender Colm Horgan, who is aged 25, from League of Ireland rivals Cork City.