With Friday’s Dublin Derby taking place on the St. Patrick’s Day weekend, the patron saint of Ireland’s honours went to ...Sat, Mar 17 2018
A Joe Gormley goal nine minutes from time was enough to secure Cliftonville’s passage to the Irish Cup semi-final at the expense of Belfast rivals, Linfield.
Both teams were welcomed onto the pitch to a raucous atmosphere as both sets of supporters turned out in huge numbers.
Linfield shaded the early exchanges going right on the attack. Achille Campion almost getting in behind only to be flagged for offside.
The first real chance of the game fell to Kirk Millar who met Niall Quinn’s cross with his head forcing Brian Neeson to make a save.
Minutes later Neeson was called into action once again this time to deny a Quinn header after a fine delivery from Mark Stafford.
With ten minutes on the clock the home side really should have taken the lead as Kurtis Bryne got himself beyond the Cliftonville back four but he could only blast his effort down the throat of Neeson.
After fifteen minutes the game was yet to settle as both teams were frantic in their play reflecting the wall of noise coming from the stands.
Twenty three minutes were on the clock when the visitors had their first sniff of goal. A fine passing move fell to the feet of Chris Curran in the box but he was sharply blocked down getting little power behind the shot.
Moments later Joe Gormley got his first half chance as Rory Donnelly flicked Neeson’s long kick into Gormley’s path only for Stafford to get across and make a vital interception.
Neither side could make a breakthrough in the opening forty five minutes of football meaning they went in as they started at half time.
Early in the second half there was a moment of panic for those in red. Neeson raced off his line to clear the ball only to miskick the ball setting up a home attack.
Millar was then brought down prompting a dangerous free kick to the home team. Quinn sent a tricky ball into the area which beat Neeson before being scrambled clear.
Cliftonville responded winning a corner of their own that was taken by Shane Grimes. The ball met the head of Garry Breen at the front post and looked destined for the bottom corner before tailing wide.
As the clocked ticked into the eightieth minute the game looked destined for extra time.
One minute later Joe Gormley was threaded through and found himself one on one with the keeper. Showing real composure to slot into the bottom left corner of the net, sending the away support into party mode.
But there was still time for an equaliser and David Healy’s men went in full pursuit as an aerial bombardment ensued. In the final minute of injury time Linfield won a corner which Quinn sent into the box only to be headed wide and a goal kick awarded.
The sound of referee Arnold Hunter’s whistle signalled the end of the game confirming Cliftonville’s passage into the Irish Cup semi-final, dumping out rivals Linfield.
Linfield: Alex Moore, Mark Stafford, Mark Haughey, Jimmy Callacher, Kirk Miller, Kurtis Byrne, Matthew Clarke (Louis Rooney 84), Jamie Mulgrew, Robert Garrett (Stephen Lowry 78), Achille Campion (Ryan Strain 84), Niall Quinn.
Subs Not Used: Joe Crowe, Joshua Robinson, Stephen Fallon, Andrew Mitchell.
Cliftonville: Brian Neeson, Jamie McGovern (Tomas Cosgrove 68), Garry Breen, Jamie Harney, Chris Curran, Stephen Garrett, Liam Bagnall (Ruairi Harkin 75), Joe Gormley (Jay Donnelly 84), Shane Grimes, Conor McDonald, Rory Donnelly.
Subs Not Used: Declan Devine, Levi Ives, Jude Winchester, Ross Lavery.
Referee: Arnold Hunter
Attendance: 2,400 (Estimate)
Extratime.ie Player of the Match: Joe Gormley (Cliftonville)