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Jamie’s trick of delight

Jamie Harney furrows his brow, takes a few seconds, casts his mind back, completes the mental arithmetic and then confirms: “Yes, that’s my first hat-trick.”

Not exactly noted for his goalscoring prowess, the central defender opened his Cliftonville account with a memorable treble in Saturday’s Tennent’s Irish Cup victory over Warrenpoint Town at Solitude – becoming the 88th Reds player to net three times in a single game.

“It’s all a bit strange and I can’t really believe it myself,” admits the 21-year-old.

“It was nice to get on the scoresheet with one goal, but three – I don’t think anyone was expecting that, I certainly wasn’t.”

Harney’s first came four minutes before half-time when his delicate touch on Ross Lavery’s free-kick delivery drew Cliftonville level and, six minutes into Extra Time, he climbed highest in a crowded penalty area to connect with a Levi Ives set piece.

He made it a trio of strikes at the Bowling Green end nine minutes later when he found the bottom corner amid a goalmouth scramble to give the Reds breathing space for the first time in a contest that swung backwards and forwards all afternoon.

“In a Cup game, no matter who you’re playing, all you want is to be in the hat for the next round and we’ve got there,” he adds.

“How we’ve done it probably doesn’t matter all that much because the result is the most important thing, but it was a strange game. I’m sure it was great for the neutral to watch because there was so much going on.

“It took us a long time to settle down and we probably could have been 2-0 behind but we got the equaliser just before half-time, took the lead just after it and then that’s when the game started going in every direction.

“We’re disappointed with how we’ve done defensively because we’ve conceded three goals and I’d sooner have taken a 1-0 win and a clean sheet rather than scoring a hat-trick, but I’ll take it and we’ll take the place in the next round.

“Crusaders will be tough but we have to go and face it, so bring it on.”