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Delayed Derby delight

Yesterday’s dramatic victory over Crusaders might have been Cliftonville’s first St Stephen’s Day success at Seaview in 10 years – but how many festive North Belfast Derbies from the last decade can you recall?

Not since the never-to-be-forgotten 2-1 win in 2009 – when five players and Crues boss Stephen Baxter were sent off in a madcap encounter – have the Red Army spilled out on to the Shore Road in triumphant form.

Twelve months later – albeit on December 27 – a dull affair at Solitude appeared set to peter out into a goalless draw until Eamonn Seydak popped up with what looked like a late winner, only for visiting midfielder Chris Morrow to instantly level matters.

The drama wasn’t finished there, though, because there was still just enough time for Mark Holland to plant a bullet header into the net at the McAlery End and seal a dramatic 2-1 victory.

On Boxing Day 2011, the Reds fell to a 3-2 loss at Seaview, despite taking an early lead through Ciaran Caldwell’s penalty.

Jordan Owens drew the hosts level and, though Chris Scannell would restore Cliftonville’s advantage, Owens equalised straight away ahead of Colin Coates banking a second-half winner for the Crues.

Until yesterday, Christmas 2012 was Cliftonville’s last Yuletide success story; Joe Gormley’s well-taken strike sending his side nine points clear at the top of the Danske Bank Premiership.

They had looked set to make it back-to-back St Stephen’s Day triumphs in 2013 when, ahead through Liam Boyce’s penalty in the aftermath of Coates skying a spot-kick of his own, the Reds were pegged back by the home captain’s last-gasp leveller at Seaview.

In 2014, Crusaders took the honours courtesy of a solitary Paul Heatley effort and 2015 appeared to be heading the Shore Road side’s way when Jordan Forsythe and Billy Joe Burns fired them 2-0 ahead only for Davy McDaid’s free-kick to tee up a stirring finale that was sealed by Jay Donnelly’s headed equaliser.

A year on, Cliftonville suffered a Christmas nightmare when Owens, Howard Beverland, Gavin Whyte and Declan Caddell blasted the Crues to a 4-0 win at Solitude on a day that saw Stephen Garrett miss from the spot, with Whyte twice on target in his side’s 2-0 win on home soil 12 months later.

Crusaders made it three Boxing Day wins in succession – and six without defeat – when they clocked up another convincing win last year; Heatley hitting a hat-trick in addition to David Cushley’s double in a 5-1 success that saw Ruaidhri Donnelly claim a late consolation for the hosts.

The tie looked set to follow a familiar festive course this time around when, for the second St Stephen’s Day in a row, Cushley fired the hosts ahead in the opening two minutes, only for McMenamin’s deadly double to finally rewrite history and end a decade of seasonal heartache for the Club.

A Decade of Festive Derbies
2010: Cliftonville 2-1 Crusaders (Seydak, M Holland)
2011: Crusaders 3-2 Cliftonville (Caldwell, C Scannell)
2012: Cliftonville 1-0 Crusaders (Gormley)
2013: Crusaders 1-1 Cliftonville (Boyce)
2014: Cliftonville 0-1 Crusaders
2015: Crusaders 2-2 Cliftonville (McDaid, J Donnelly)
2016: Cliftonville 0-4 Crusaders
2017: Crusaders 2-0 Cliftonville
2018: Cliftonville 1-5 Crusaders (R Donnelly)
2019: Crusaders 1-2 Cliftonville (McMenamin x2)