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Lessons Larned

While yesterday’s 1-1 draw with Larne ended Cliftonville’s seven-match winning streak in the League, the occasion did not pass without another milestone being met.

For, prior to hitting the equalising goal at Inver Park, Larne had been the only Premiership side that Joe Gormley had never scored past – with his powerful first-half finish making the east Antrim side the 31st opponent he has found the net against.

With each new goal extending the Club Record, Gormley’s 20th strike of the season took his overall tally to a stunning 205 in just 307 appearances, with the Larne showdown becoming the 144th separate match in which he has been on target.

The Reds have won 115 of the games in which Gormley’s name has appeared on the scoresheet, compared to 14 defeats, while yesterday’s stalemate was the 15th time the Reds have drawn a game following a strike by our legendary No 19, who turns 30 on Tuesday.

His opener from the penalty spot against Crusaders on October 5, 2018, saw him break a 57-year-old record set when Kevin McGarry netted the last of his 170 goals for the Club in a League encounter with Bangor on March 4, 1961.

While McGarry – who beat the previous landmark of 127 set by Sid Over – amassed his total after 286 appearances for the Reds, Gormley needed just 247 to set his own goalscoring milestone, one which he has since increased substantially.

Joe made his debut in a friendly with The New Saints on June 18, 2011 and, though his injury-time winner at Park Hall doesn’t count towards his tally, his incredible half-volley from the halfway line provided an early glimpse of what was to come in a Red shirt – and was the first of 41 goals he has scored in friendlies, taking his overall unofficial count to 246.

His first competitive outing came somewhat ironically against the same opponents in the Europa League just 12 days later but almost three further months would pass before he opened his scoring account when Ards were defeated on League Cup duty at Solitude on September 20, 2011 – Cliftonville’s 132nd birthday.

His maiden Premiership strike came when he put the seal on a 4-1 victory over Dungannon on October 8, while his habit of last-gasp goals continued in a memorable triumph over the Crues the following month.

Indeed, ‘Joe The Goal’ has been no stranger to the scoresheet in North Belfast Derbies, having found the net against Crusaders on no fewer than 17 occasions – the same tally he yesterday reached against Dungannon.

Next up are Ards (15), Ballinamallard United (14), Ballymena United, Glenavon, Glentoran, Portadown and Warrenpoint Town (all 13) joining Linfield, Institute (both 11) and Coleraine (10) as the sides against whom he has registered double figures.

Gormley has converted 20 penalties, with Crusaders having also shipped more of his spot-kicks (5) than any other team and are one of nine opponents he has smashed hat-tricks past – with Warrenpoint and Institute both having suffered that fate twice.

In total, Joe has racked up 39 doubles, including five against Ards, four against Crusaders and three against Linfield, Ballinamallard United and Dungannon, while his total of 141 Premiership conversions means he’s also Cliftonville’s leading scorer of League goals.

As well as 32 League Cup strikes, 15 in the Irish Cup, eight in the County Antrim Shield, five in European Play-Offs and two in the Setanta Sports Cup, Gormley has also struck twice in Europe while, yesterday, Larne became the latest new Club that he has found the net against since joining Cliftonville from Crumlin Star just over seven years ago – although, whisper it quietly, that statistic would have been updated sooner had he not missed a penalty against the Invermen last month!

Cliftonville FC Top 10 Goalscorers
205: Joe Gormley
170: Kevin McGarry
153: Chris Scannell
127: Sid Over
115: Norman McCaw
110: James Millar
103: George McMullan
99: John Platt
84: Liam Boyce
78: Frank Mortished

Gormley’s Goals By Opposition
17: v Crusaders (including five penalties, four doubles and one hat-trick)
17: v Dungannon Swifts (including two penalties, three doubles and one hat-trick)
15: v Ards (including five doubles)
14: v Ballinamallard United (including one penalty, three doubles and one hat-trick)
13: v Portadown (including two penalties, two doubles and one hat-trick)
13: v Ballymena United (including two penalties, two doubles and one hat-trick)
13: v Warrenpoint Town (including two hat-tricks)
13: v Glenavon (including three doubles)
13: v Glentoran
11: v Linfield (including one penalty and three doubles)
11: v Institute (including one penalty, two hat-tricks and one double)
10: v Coleraine (including one penalty and one double)
9: v Lisburn Distillery (including one hat-trick and two doubles)
7: v Carrick Rangers (including two penalties and three doubles)
6: v Bangor (three doubles)
3: v Dundela (one hat-trick)
2: v Ards Rangers (one double)
2: v Donegal Celtic
2: v H&W Welders (one double, including one penalty)
2: v Loughgall (one double)
2: v Tobermore United (one double)
1: v Banbridge Town
1: v Shamrock Rovers
1: v St Patrick’s Athletic
1: v Wakehurst (penalty)
1: v Nordsjælland (penalty)
1: v Newry City
1: v Barry Town United
1: v Moyola Park
1: v Knockbreda
1: v Larne

Gormley’s Goals By Competition
Premiership: 141
Europa League: 2
European Play-Offs: 5
Irish Cup: 32
League Cup: 15
County Antrim Shield: 8
Setanta Sports Cup: 2
Friendlies: 41 (not included in official total)