Cliftonville pay emotional tribute to the late Tommy Breslin as they ease to Glenavon win
Danske Irish Premiership: Cliftonville 3 Glenavon 1
APPLAUSE, tears and goals. Last night, Solitude mourned one of its favourite sons - the late, the irreplaceable, the eternally modest Tommy Breslin.
Prior to kick-off, the north Belfast club paid an emotional tribute to their former manager who died suddenly while holidaying in Spain last week, aged just 58.
It was the kind of tribute that completely punctured last night's league game with Glenavon before it even began.
Tommy Breslin's extended family gathered on the pitch as a huge red and white wreath, replete with a green shamrock in the middle, was placed on the penalty spot in front of the old Cage End of the ground.
One of the wreath's carriers was Peter 'Minto' Murray - Tommy's former assistant and close friend - who never stood a chance of stopping the tears from falling.
He wasn't alone in the famous old ground.
The PA announcer's voice rippled with emotion when he described 'Bressy' as the man who "turned us into winners".
Both sets of fans and players probably would have continued applauding into the small hours of Wednesday morning if referee Andrew Davey hadn't respectfully blew his whistle to get the league game underway.
It was fitting, too, that the Reds ended the night with a victory – adding to the point they banked in their league opener against Coleraine last weekend.
Joe Gormely (two) and Ryan Curran gave the Reds a commanding 3-0 first half lead while Glenavon substitute Andrew Mitchell replied in the 53rd minute to invigorate the visitors.
Apart from a a few nervy moments in the second period, Cliftonville held on to their two-goal advantage.
Joe ‘The Goal’ opened the scoring after just three minutes and he won’t score many easier, nodding home Ronan Doherty’s pin-point cross from the left with the Glenavon defence all at sea.
The Ardoyne man jogged the length of the field, punching his chest and pointing up to the Breslin family in the directors' box.
That goal was for them, and Tommy.
The Lurgan Blues, who opened up their league campaign with a 1-1 home draw with Glentoran last Friday night, were completely out of sorts and rarely threatened in a first half that lacked any real tempo.
On 28 minutes, Cliftonville doubled their lead and Gormley bagged his second after playing a neat one-two with Ryan Curran and despite visiting goalkeeper Jonathan Tuffey getting a hand to it, there was sufficient power to see the ball ripple Glenavon's net for a second time.
And Glenavon's night of woe continued when Ryan Curran's pile-driver soared into the top corner - not after a cushioned assist from the in-form Gormley - to make it 3-0.
Paddy McLaughlin's men should have notched another couple of goals before the interval with Rory Donnelly firing wide and then Ryan Curran spurning a one-on-one with Tuffey after a terrible miskick from Glenavon defender Andrew Doyle.
The only way was up for Gary Hamilton’s men in the second half and the double substitution of Andrew Mitchell and Jack O’Mahony appeared to have the desired effect.
A glancing header from Mitchell pulled one back for Glenavon in the 53rd minute while Robert Garrett went close with a curling effort that breezed past Brush’s post.
Josh Daniels saw his looping header clip the Cliftonville crossbar as the visitors went for broke, but they couldn't add to Mitchell's strike.
Doherty, Levi Ives, Gormley and Ryan Curran all caught the eye for the Reds - but the night will be remembered for the applause and the tears and the club's touching tribute to a club legend.
As for Tommy B, he most certainly would have approved of the goals and the stylish manner of Cliftonville's win.
Cliftonville: R Brush, C McDermott, L Ives, J Gorman, A Donnelly, A Harkin (D Rocks 90), L Bagnall, R Doherty (C Curran 87), R Curran, R Donnelly (R Wilson 89), J Gormley Subs not used: D Dunne, S Garrett, S Foster, T Maguire
Glenavon: J Tuffey, C Marron, A Doye, J Daneils, A Hall (A Mitchell 46), A Harmon, C McCloskey, J Singleton, R Garrett, J Jenkins (J O’Mahony 46), S Sharkey (S Murray 66) Subs not used: J Taylor, P Burns, M Ferguson, L Jameson
Referee: A Davey