Irish Premiership: Cliftonville 7-0 Ballymena Utd

Joe Gormley celebrates his hat-trick against Ballymena

Cliftonville moved top of the Premiership on goal difference after hammering 10-man Ballymena at Solitude.

Martin Donnelly slotted in a 53rd minute opener after a tight first half but Ballymena collapsed after Davy Munster's dismissal on the hour mark.

The hosts scored five goals in 12 amazing minutes, with Joe Gormley bagging a clinical treble and David McDaid netting twice.

Substitute Jay Donnelly blasted in his first Reds goal to complete the rout.

Ballymena were left to rue missed chances in the first half with keeper Conor Devlin denying Matthew Tipton and Aaron Boyce.

Sky Blues keeper Dwayne Nelson also made a fine save, blocking Gormley's effort after the strike was put through on goal.

Both sides went close on the restart but the Reds made the vital breakthrough as Donnelly latched onto a pinpoint Jude Winchester pass before sliding the ball under Nelson.

Martin Donnelly celebrates putting Cliftonville ahead against Ballymena
Martin Donnelly is congratulated by David McDaid and Stephen Garrett after scoring the opener

Munster headed in from a corner but it was controversially ruled out and seconds later the defender was sent-off in what proved to be the decisive moment of the game.

The champions were quick to capitalise with Gormley rounding Nelson before netting and starting a Reds goal blitz.

McDaid pounced on a defensive error to smash home the third and Gormley tapped in from close range to make it 3-0.

McDaid poked in at the near-post for his double and a fabulous volley from a tight angle secured the hat-trick for Gormley.

Jay Donnelly, brother of former Reds striker and current Swansea City player Rory, supplied a cool strike from 20 yards with seven minutes left.

"Ballymena played really well in the first half but Davy Munster's sending off put an end to their hopes," said Reds midfielder Ryan Catney.

"Once they went down to 10 we had more room to express ourselves on the ball."

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