Five star Cliftonville cruise past Dungannon Swifts

Rory Donnelly celebrates his second goal for Cliftonville. Mandatory Credit �INPHO/Freddie Parkinson
Rory Donnelly celebrates his second goal for Cliftonville. Mandatory Credit �INPHO/Freddie Parkinson

Cliftonville steamrolled Dungannon Swifts with a five-star display that boss Barry Gray hopes will help get his men back on track.

Having lost their last three outings the Reds knew that anything less than three points simply wouldn’t do and things looked ominous when Jamie Harney’s own goal gave the Swifts a fifth minute lead.

Cliftonville’s response was immediate and emphatic, however, with Rory Donnelly and Joe Gormley each netting doubles alongside an eye-catching strike from captain Chris Curran. The first goal of the day almost came with just three minutes on the clock when Stephen Garrett drew a fine save from Dungannon keeper Alex Moore. The ball was in the net at the other end soon later when Mark Patton clipped over a free-kick delivery that was flicked on by Harney, who looked aghast as the ball dropped over flat-footed keeper Brian Neeson and into the back of the net.

The leveller wasn’t long in coming and there was a sense of inevitability that Rory Donnelly would take centre stage. With younger brother Jay absent just days after pleading guilty to a charge of distributing an indecent image, the elder Donnelly sibling rushed straight to family members after connecting with a Levi Ives set piece.

The Swifts thought they had cleared the dangerfrom a Gormley effort but they weren’t quite so lucky from the subsequent corner that eventually ended with Curran curling home.

Dungannon’s misfortune was further evident when referee Jamie Robinson blocked Douglas Wilson’s attempted clearance, allowing Donnelly and Curran to combine and set Gormley up for a howitzer of a finish.

Donnelly’s glancing header from Ives’ 68th minute corner extended the Reds’ advantage ahead of Gormley’s left-footed effort putting the seal on things – although the visitors could count themselves lucky that the striker was unable to complete his hat-trick when some comical late defending provided him with two golden opportunities that he just couldn’t make the most of.