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Monday Monthly: September

As the countdown to the new Irish League season continues, produces the second chapter of a new weekly mini-series reflecting on the good, the bad and the in-betweens of the term just finished.

Every Monday, we’ll take a chronological look back on a new month from the 2019/20 campaign – with September’s action taking centre stage today.

Cliftonville were left frustrated in their bid to build on an encouraging start to their domestic programme as Linfield held on to take all three Danske Bank Premiership points at Solitude.

Trailing to a Jimmy Callacher header, the Reds – who had earlier gone close through Joe Gormley, Ruaidhri Donnelly and Conor McMenamin – were left cursing their luck in the closing stages when a host of penalty appeals for handling inside the box were ignored by referee Andrew Davey, who earned further ire from the home support after appearing to change his mind over the issuing of a booking that would have seen visiting forward Andy Waterworth dismissed.

A few days later, Paddy McLaughlin’s side made light work of Knockbreda in the opening round of their County Antrim Shield quest on a night that was notable for Calvin McCurry becoming the quickest ever goalscoring debutant in the history of the Club.

Three up thanks to finishes from Gormley, McMenamin and an Alex Pomeroy own goal, Cliftonville’s final strike of the evening came when, less than a minute after being introduced from the bench, McCurry (above) netted with just his second touch – the first having helped him walk the ball around the Breda goalkeeper.

The team made it successive 4-0 wins when they travelled to tackle Dungannon Swifts at Stangmore Park, where Garry Breen broke the deadlock with a well-taken left-footed finish just before half-time.

Shortly after the turnaround, Gormley tapped in number two after being teed up by Ryan Curran, who would himself make it 3-0 with a close-range finish.

Some smart work from Gormley saw him round Swifts keeper Sam Johnston to add the fourth with 10 minutes left to play and put the seal on a convincing away day success.

Another win – albeit much narrower in margin – came when Ruaidhri Donnelly’s header saw off Institute at Solitude the following week ahead of Cliftonville defeating Crewe United 5-2 in the first annual Tommy Breslin Memorial Cup match.

The winning run had looked set to continue when the Reds visited Ballymena United but, with only a single Donnelly goal to show for their dominance at The Showgrounds, the visitors were made to pay when Andy McGrory drew the Sky Blues level ahead of Conor McDermott’s own goal completing the turnaround.

September ended with supporters nominating Richard Brush – who kept three clean sheets in his five appearances – their Sean Graham Player of the Month as the Reds looked ahead to a Friday night battle with Glentoran in October’s opening week.

Cliftonville 0-1 Linfield

Cliftonville 4-0 Knockbreda
Gormley, McMenamin, OG, McCurry

Dungannon Swifts 0-4 Cliftonville
Breen, Gormley [2], R Curran

Cliftonville 1-0 Institute
R Donnelly

Crewe United 2-5 Cliftonville
Maguire [3], Gormley, R Donnelly

Ballymena United 2-1 Cliftonville
R Donnelly