NIFL Premiership

Cliftonville 4–0 Newry City 

CLIFTONVILLE topped the table for the first time this season with a comfortable 4-0 win over Newry at Solitude on Saturday afternoon. 

All the goals came in a fast-paced opening half that saw Rory Hale claim a hat-trick by the stroke of half-time, with Ryan Curran tapping home in between times as Paddy McLaughlin’s side claimed their most comprehensive win of the campaign to date. 


The Reds boss felt the game was over at half-time and felt their clinical finishing was a big difference. 

“The boys were very good in the first half,” recalled McLaughlin. 

“It’s not being too disrespectful to Newry by no means, but the game was probably won at half-time.

"When you’re home and 4-0 up, it was just a ruthless performance in the first half. I think the chances we created we scored from, I don’t remember us missing any chances in the first half – everything we created, we seemed to score. 

“Newry had their chances as well too. They definitely had one or two and they could have kept themselves in the tie up until half-time. We got that wee bit of luck; they missed the target with one that was going to go over the 'keeper and it went onto the top of the net. But like I say, I think the chances that we created we scored and that was probably the difference. We were clinical and they weren’t, and the game was probably won at half-time.”

McLaughlin made two changes to the side that was edged out of the Scottish Challenge Cup by Queens Park last weekend. 

Nathan Gartside returned between the posts and Aaron Traynor replaced Colin Coates in a reshaped back four. 

Cliftonville almost went ahead when Jamie McDonagh picked out the run of Rory Hale whose effort was blocked and deflected behind for a corner by Andrew Martin. 

The resulting set-piece saw the duo play the corner short and Hale measured an angled effort in off the post and past Steven Maguire to make it 1-0. 

Newry were almost back on terms quickly from a Lorcan Forde cross that James Teelan poked wide of the post. 

With little over a quarter of an hour on the clock, the lead was doubled at Solitude. Ronan Hale let fly with a snapshot that Maguire initially looked to have turned over his bar, but the ball dropped off the bar and onto the foot of Ryan Curran for an easy tap-in. 

Things went from bad to worse for the visitors when Cliftonville extended their lead midway through the half. 

A fantastic flowing move saw Ronan Doherty slide the ball into the path of Rory Hale who skipped through and rifled low beneath Maguire to make it 3-0. 

A deflection from Ryan McGivern prevented further damage after Ronan Hale fed Doherty for a chance from the edge of the box. 

James Teelan glanced a Daniel Hughes cross wide of the post before the break, but at the other end, the hosts weren’t as wasteful. 

Chris Curran takes the ball away fro Philip Donnelly

Chris Curran takes the ball away fro Philip Donnelly

Ronan Hale burst down the left channel and fired in a low cross that Maguire parried, only as far as Rory Hale who coolly picked his spot to claim a first-half hat-trick and make it 4-0 at the interval. 

Both sides altered things with League Cup ties in midweek and as a result, the tempo dropped slightly. 

With 20 minutes remaining, James Teelan let fly with an effort from the edge of the area that crashed off the outside of the post for Newry. 

A double opportunity then fell to substitute Joe Gormley, the first after McDonagh swung a fantastic crossfield pass to him in the area, but his attempted dink was held by Maguire and the Newry shot-stopper got down to thwart a further effort moments later. 

Thereafter it was very much routine for the Reds who ran out 4-0 winners to climb to the league summit. 

CLIFTONVILLE: Gartside, Lowe, Addis, Turner, Traynor, Gallagher (C Curran 46), Doherty (Casey 46), Rory Hale (Storey 70), R Curran (Gormley 68), McDonagh, Ronan Hale (Moore 68). 

NEWRY CITY: Maguire, King (Omrore 36), Healy, McGivern, Hughes (Carville 77), Lockhart (Scullion 77), Teelan (Kwelele 77), Martin, Donnelly, Forde (Healy 69), Montgomery.