With little more than week having passed since Cliftonville brought the curtain down on the 2017/18 season and as the countdown to next month’s Europa League First Qualifying Round draw gathers pace, cliftonvillefc.net kicks off a new weekly mini-series reflecting on the good, the bad and the in-betweens of the campaign just finished.
Every Monday, we’ll take a chronological look back on a new month from Barry Gray’s first year at the helm – starting today with last July’s pre-season friendly action.
Having commenced their warm-up programme with June’s narrow loss to Dundalk at Oriel Park, Cliftonville clicked into gear with a 5-0 defeat of Ballyclare Comrades before coming from behind to shock a Swansea City XI at Solitude.
Newry City and Lisbellaw United were hit for six and, after a scheduled friendly encounter with Shamrock Rovers was cancelled, the Reds slotted in a trip to Dublin to take on Shelbourne at Tolka Park, where a Joe Gormley hat-trick provided the clearest evidence yet that the recently-returned striker was beginning to hit form just in time for the new Danske Bank Premiership season.
Jay Donnelly, meanwhile, found the net in every game, with midfielder Jude Winchester on target with braces against Ballyclare and Lisbellaw before completing the scoring against Shels.
Before Cliftonville’s opening day showdown with Ards, however, came a final pre-season outing against near neighbours Newington YC – and that’s where we’ll begin August’s recap when we reconvene next Monday.
Cliftonville 5-0 Ballyclare Comrades
J Donnelly, Winchester , Gormley, Lavery
Cliftonville 2-1 Swansea City
J Donnelly, Breen
Cliftonville 6-0 Newry City
OG, J Donnelly , Gormley , Lavery
Lisbellaw United 1-6 Cliftonville
Gormley , J Donnelly , Winchester 
Shelbourne 0-6 Cliftonville
Gormley , Hughes, J Donnelly, Winchester