Irish League kick-off: Cliftonville captain George McMullan looks to life without talisman Joe Gormley

Joe Gormley was prolific for Cliftonville
Joe Gormley was prolific for Cliftonville

Cliftonville skipper George McMullan is confident there is life without Joe Gormley at Solitude.

Gormley sealed a dream move into full-time football when he signed a three-year deal with Peterborough United back in June.

It was reward for a stellar career at Cliftonville, one that saw the 26-year-old win two titles among other glittering silverware.

Gormley’s potent threat in front of goal was a major part of the Reds’ success in recent years.

The hit-man bagged 122 goals in 183 appearances for the north Belfast club – including a club record 41 last season.

Now Tommy Breslin’s men will look to the talents of Davy McDaid and Jay Donnelly to provide the goals this term.

And skipper McMullan is confident the duo can take up the gauntlet.

“Joe is obviously a big loss for us. There aren’t too many strikers of his ability around,” McMullan said.

“Joe scored for fun, and his goals to games ratio at Cliftonville was unbelievable. When we lost Liam Boyce last year people wondered how Joe would cope. Well, he just went out and broke the club record for most goals in a season. That’s how good he is.

“But we have to move on, and in Davy McDaid and Jay Donnelly we have two more natural goalscorers.

“Davy has proved himself in the Premiership, and I think Jay also stepped up to the plate last season.

“This is a big year for him, and he will be keen to become Cliftonville’s next big thing.”

Jay’s brother Rory made the move from Cliftonville to Swansea City back in January 2012, while Boyce joined Scottish Premiership side Ross County last summer.

Gormley is the latest striker to fly off the Solitude conveyor belt and seal a move into full-time football.

“They don’t hang about for long, do they?” jokes McMullan.

“But in all seriousness, it is great for the young lads to get their chance. That’s why you become a footballer, to try and make a career out of it.

“Rory, Liam and Joe have all deserved their moves and good luck to them.

“We obviously miss them, but we have to look to the players at Cliftonville and the youngsters coming through.”

Cliftonville won the League Cup and County Antrim Shield last season but laboured to a fifth-place finish in the Premiership.

“Last season was disappointing,” McMullan added.

“It is nice winning two cups, but we faded badly in the league. We picked up a lot of injuries which didn’t help, but it was disappointing the way things fizzled out.

“But we are still confident we can lay down a challenge this season. We still have a strong squad here, even after Joe’s departure.”