Very few chinks in Cliftonville’s title armour this season

Cliftonville players celebrate their win over Glentoran
Cliftonville players celebrate their win over Glentoran

Strikers are generally considered the glamour kings of football.

They are revered by misty-eyed kids for their goalscoring heroics, and earn the adulation of the fans – especially when their goals help win vital games.

They are the poster boys who adorn the walls of young teenagers who aspire to follow in their idol’s footsteps.

You score goals, you become the hero – that’s the logic.

Everyone remembers the player who bags the match-winner – we regale stories of last-minute volleys and looping headers that nestle in the onion bag.

Cliftonville duo Liam Boyce and Joe Gormley are two such stars whose scoring antics have become the stuff of legend down at Solitude.

The double act were pivotal in the Reds’ title march last season, and this term have edged Cliftonville towards a second successive title.

Gormley has been the star attraction this year.

On Saturday he scored his 36th goal of the campaign – equalling Boyce’s club record of most goals in a season.

It is a phenomenal return from the former Crumlin Star youngster who will no doubt be at the forefront of any player of the year nominations.

But while Gormley and Boyce continue to light up the Premiership, there are other unsung heroes at Solitude who deserve the plaudits this season.

There is the midfield engine room of Ryan Catney and Barry Johnston who are the epitome of hard work and endeavour.

Chris Curran’s transition from Ballinamallard to the champions has been seamless, while Marty Donnelly has shrugged off his early-season frustrations to become another focal point in the Reds machine.

And then there is the defence which on Saturday included Ronan Scannell, Marc Smyth, Jamie McGovern and Eamon Seydak.

The Reds backline has conceded just four goals in their last 10 league games, with goalkeeper Conor Devlin keeping six clean sheets during that time.

There are other names of note, including injured George McMullan, striker Diarmuid O’Carroll and the versatile Stephen Garrett.

Goals do win games, but clean sheets and impervious backlines are also part of a title-winning fabric – Cliftonville have the lot.

It is a complete package, glued together by the jovial and self-effacing Tommy Breslin.

And with three games to go, they will be hard to stop.