Toal’s Bookmakers County Antrim Shield, quarter-final
Cliftonville 7-2 Dundela
CLIFTONVILLE marched into the semi-finals of the Co. Antrim Shield as they put seven past Dundela at a chilly Solitude last night.
Joe Gormley was on target four times for Paddy McLaughlin’ s side with Chris Curran finding the net twice in three second half minutes and Ryan Curran completing the rout to send the holders comfortably through.
It was an excellent performance from Cliftonville and whilst they did concede twice, there was never any real danger they would be in for a nervous night as they kept their bid to retain the Shield on course.
It was a quiet opening 10 minutes with little by the way of opportunities but as the minutes passed, Cliftonville began to exert control.
Chris Curran say a shot saved and fumbled, but cleared to safety, while on 14 minutes Levi Ives put Mark McKee away on the left and his pull-back was met by Ryan Curran but Dundela goalkeeper Michael Argyrides turned it behind for a corner.
The visitors were unable to put any sustained pressure on Cliftonville although Ethan Warnock did have a decent effort from a curling free-kick that wasn’t too far away.
However, the bulk of the action was taking place at the other end and Cliftonville were going closer with each chance, their best yet arriving on 21 minutes as Conor McMenamin played an excellent low cross in from the left with Thomas Maguire meeting it first-time, but his effort came back off the underside of the bar and somehow stayed out.
Maguire then floated in a cross for Gormley who just couldn’t get enough purchase on it to guide it on-target.
The Reds’ talisman couldn’t be denied for long and on 30 minutes he struck the opener as Chris Curran made a clever break, passed inside to McKee who spotted Gormley cutting in from the right and this time his finish was superb, low into the corner.
The pair combined again six minutes later with McKee clipping in a delightful ball to the back post where Gormley was unmarked and his finish was a thing of beauty, catching the ball when swivelling on the volley to guide it home.
Gormley was almost in for a third on a couple of occasions but just couldn’t get the ball under control but was to have no such issues on 42 minutes when he pounced on a poor back-pass to lift the ball over Argyrides to complete his hat-trick.
The first half scoring wasn’t done there as Dundela pulled one back moments before the. break when Guillaume Keke mulled his way through, and the ball broke to Owain Beggs who was felled by Garry Breen when about to finish and the penalty was awarded. Up-stepped Beggs to roll down the middle and leave it 3-1 art the break.
Cliftonville almost cancelled this out straight after the break in rather fortuitous fashion when a mix-up in the Dundela defence say Argyrides hack clear, but the ball came off Gormley and looped towards the empty net only for the goalkeeper to scramble back and gather.
Chris Curran then had a shot blocked as Cliftonville went for the kill although Declan Dunne was called into action at the other end when Tom Mathieson’ s curling effort from range needed to be tipped over.
However, it wasn’t long before the floodgates opened as the hosts put this game firmly to bed with a further three goals in quick succession.
On 52 minutes, Gormley turned provider as he squared for Chris Curran to find the net having been put in by Ryan Curran.
Two minutes later and Ryan Curran again played an excellent ball through to Chris who lashed low with his shot coming off both posts before nestling in the net.
Gormley was then denied on a couple of occasions by Argyrides when through but there would be no denying him his fourth of the night on 59 minutes as Con or McMenamin squared for The Reds’ talisman to turn home at the back post.
A raft of substitutions followed with Paddy McLaughlin making three changes, but it was Dundela substitute Daniel Burns who made the immediate impact as a bit of a mix-up in the Cliftonville defence allowed him to pounce with his first touch and guide a shot into the net for 6-2 in the 65th minute.
There was never any real prospect of Dundela getting into this and on 70 minutes, the scoring was wrapped up and fittingly it was Ryan Curran - celebrating his 27th birthday - who got it when he poked home after McMenamin had rolled the ball across goal.
Cliftonville substitute Lee O’ Brien almost got in on the act when his rasping drive was tipped over, while Dunne was called into action at the other end late on to deny Beggs a consolation, but the game had long since been decided as Cliftonville marched into the last four.
Elsewhere, Glentoran required penalties to get the better of Ards as the East Belfast side moved into the semi-finals thanks to a 5-4 win on spot-kicks after the game ended 0-0 after 90 minutes.
Linfield were 2-0 winners over Carrick Rangers, while Larne romped to a 4-0 victory over Crusaders.
CLIFTONVILLE: D Dunne, L Ives, G Breen (S McGuinness 64), C Curran, C McMenamin, M McKee, T Maguire, L Bagnall (L O’ Brien 64), O Casey, J Gormley (E Devine 64), R Curran
Goals: Gormley (30, 36, 42, 59), C Curran (52, 54), R Curran (70)
DUNDELA: M Argyrides, M Kerr, E Warnock, J Taylor, K Owens, E Kane (C McComb 85), D McMaster, W Falkner, G Keke (E Wynne 71), O Beggs, T Mathieson (D Burns 64)
Goals: Beggs (pen, 44), Burns (65)
REFEREE: Shane Andrews
Reds hit a magnificent seven to reach Shield semis
Toal’s Bookmakers County Antrim Shield, quarter-final