Cliftonville 4-0 Newry City
Rory Hale rattled in a hat-trick as Cliftonville powered past Newry City at Solitude this afternoon.
The midfielder opened the scoring with an inch-perfect finish from a narrow angle before Ryan Curran made it 2-0 when he had the simple task of tapping home after a Ronan Hale effort had been turned against the crossbar by the keeper.
Rory Hale then capped a scintillating team move to claim the Reds’ third and went on to wrap up his treble before half-time when an effort from his younger brother was deflected into his path.
Cliftonville made a blistering start to proceedings and almost took the lead when Jamie McDonagh’s back post delivery was nodded wide by Aaron Traynor.
Soon later, another McDonagh cross was nearly seized upon by Ronan Hale and, though goalkeeper Steven Maguire intervened on that occasion, Rory Hale’s follow-up was deflected behind by Andrew Martin.
From the resulting corner, however, Hale wasn’t to be denied; coming short to take possession from McDonagh before curling in via the post.
Lorcan Forde pocked an effort wide as City sought an instant response but it wasn’t long before it was 2-0 when Ronan Hale’s shot was turned against the bar and Curran was there to touch the ball over the line.
James Teelan was unfortunate to see a dinked strike land on the roof of the net and, just as before, Newry’s failure to convert was punished when the Reds added a third. Ronan Doherty’s crossfield ball was beautifully controlled by Ronan Hale and he played a pass to Curran, whose touch allowed the in-rushing Rory Hale to jink past three challenges before slamming home.
The first-half’s familiar theme played out again when Teelan headed off target from inside the area and Cliftonville duly netted at the other end as Hale completed his treble with a left-footed shot from close range after his brother had been thwarted by Maguire.
The rest of the game failed to reach the same heights, although Joe Gormley was twice denied by the City keeper and the luckless Teelan saw a long-range blast crash against the post.
Cliftonville: Gartside, Addis, Gallagher (C Curran, 46 mins), Rory Hale (Storey, 70 mins), R Curran (Gormley, 57 mins), McDonagh, Lowe, Traynor, Doherty (Casey, 46 mins), Turner, Ronan Hale (Moore, 57 mins). Unused subs: Talley, Coates.