Cliftonville manager Tommy Breslin has saluted hit-man Joe Gormley who this week roared into the club’s history books by becoming the first player to bag 30 goals in successive seasons.
The 23-year-old pocketed a glorious double in the midweek win over Ards – a result that catapulted the Reds to within one point of Premiership table-toppers Linfield.
Gormley finished last season with a 30-goal total following his strike in the Irish Cup final defeat by Glentoran, but with almost four months of the current campaign remaining, the sky’s the limit for the former Crumlin Star player.
He is the only the third player in the club’s 135-year existence to have reached that total.
Norman McCaw’s 35 goals (in 1931-32) was recently overhauled by Liam Boyce’s 36.
But having hit the net 74 times in 121 outings, Gormley will have his sights set on bigger things.
“He’s been phenomenal for us,” declared Breslin.
“Sometimes, big Joe is simply unplayable. He was in that sort of mood against Ards. To have hit 30 goals at this stage of the season is astonishing.
“I’ve said it before, but when he gets the ball in front of him around the penalty box, everyone expects the net to bulge.
“He’s a great talent and has formed a wonderful understanding with Boycie.
“Some of the inter-change stuff between Boyce and Gormley against Ards was exceptional.
“They got great service form the midfielders and the boys on the flanks.
“The pair of them are still in their early 20s, so reckon I reckon the best is yet to come from the both of them.”
Breslin will be hoping for something similar when Ronnie McFall’s Portadown leave a calling card at Solitude on Saturday.
“It’s always a tough game,” added Breslin.
“We’ve taken only one point from a possible six against them.
“Oddly enough, we were leading in both games with only about six or seven minutes left. They scored two late goals to win at our place.
“We then established a 2-0 and then 3-1 lead at Shamrock Park, but they again came back with two late goals to get a point.
“I’ve no doubt that this will be the same. But we are in a nice little run at the minute, unbeaten in 10 games or so.
“We must look after our own interests and not look over our shoulder.
“Some of the stuff we played at Ards was outstanding. We were a goal down after a couple of minutes, but we showed great character to hit back almost immediately.
“We went in at half time 2-1 in front, but it could have been more . . . the final ball let us down at times.
“The only disappointment was the second goal we conceded -- it was schoolboy stuff at the back. We weren’t haning on, but it could have been a lot more comfortable.”