Barry Johnston hails firepower of strike sensation Joe Gormley

Cliftonville's Joe Gormley
Cliftonville's Joe Gormley

Cliftonville midfielder Barry Johnston insists there is no stopping strike sensation Joe Gormley this season.

Gormley scored his 36th goal of the season in Saturday’s 2-0 win over Glentoran at Solitude.

It saw the Reds hitman equal Liam Boyce’s club record of most goals in a season – a tally that is likely to swell with three games remaining this term.

It also helped Cliftonville maintain their slender one-point lead over Linfield at the top of the Danske Bank Premiership.

Chris Curran broke the deadlock with a superb curling effort in the 52nd minute, with Gormley adding a second five minutes later.

The Glens were reduced to 10 men in between with Johnny Addis sent off for a second bookable offence.

Johnston believes the Reds have the nerve to retain the Gibson Cup this season, and has tipped Gormley to help fire in the goals to deliver Premiership glory once again.

“One more goal and Joe will break the record – it’s astounding,” Johnston said.

“He has been unbelievable over the past two seasons.

“Even in games when he isn’t too involved, a bit like today, he still comes up with the goods.

“Fair play to him, when he hits a ball it stays hit and his goal was well-taken.

“He thinks he is a left-back in training. He thinks he is Lizarazu or someone.

“He doesn’t do much apart from shoot when he gets it – maybe that’s why he can hit a ball so cleanly.

“When Joe arrived here he was as quiet as a mouse. But now he has come out of his shell, he is a head case.

“But he just keeps scoring goals which is great for.”

It took a bit of magic from Curran to break the Glens’ resistance at Solitude.

The winger picked up possession on the left before cutting inside and unleashing an unstoppable right-foot shot into the top corner of Elliott Morris’ net.

The visitors were reduced to 10 men in the 56th minute after referee Colin Burns adjudged Addis to have tugged on Liam Boyce’s shirt.

One minute later Gormley struck, the striker picking up possession from Marty Donnelly before thundering an unstoppable drive past Morris from 15 yards.

Reds boss Tommy Breslin was quick to extol the qualities of Gormley, who has enjoyed a meteoric rise since arriving from Amateur League club Crumlin Star three years ago.

“Joe has been fantastic. Scoring 36 goals to equal the club record is a wonderful achievement,” Breslin said.

“He could have had another but volleyed one past the post. A couple of years ago he was playing in the Amateur League, so to go two seasons scoring over 30 goals is phenomenal.

“He is still learning the game as well, and he will improve. So there is no reason why he can’t continue doing that for years to come.

“He has done well, and Liam as well. Joe has enjoyed a meteoric rise, and he is a good lad. He loves training and works hard. So it doesn’t surprise me to see what he is capable of.”

Glens boss Patterson was left fuming with the decision to send defender Addis off.

“Colin Burns ruined the whole game with the sending off,” blasted Patterson, whose comments are likely to come under scrutiny by the IFA.

“(Ryan) Catney and Johnston got away with challenges in the first half and weren’t spoken to. Johnny Addis gets booked for two tackles and gets sent off.

“When you look at the amount of mistakes Colin Burns has made throughout the season and see how many have gone Cliftonville’s way.

“We knew today would be very difficult, even before a ball was kicked.

“We also had six or seven regular players out injured today, but the referee just made the challenge even greater.

“It was an absolute joke.”