Gary Hamilton not setting any targets for Glenavon
ALTHOUGH Glenavon player-manager Gary Hamilton insists no targets have been set this season, wins like Saturday’s 3-2 success over Linfield at Mourneview Park must surely give rise to the hope that they can better last term’s third-placed finish.
The Lurgan Blues currently sit fifth, just two points off fourth-placed Linfield and five behind Coleraine in third.
And Hamilton was pleased to put down a marker against one of the clubs around them in the table.
“It was pleasing for us because to date we haven’t beaten any of the top teams,” he said.
“We’ve had a couple of draws, so it was nice to break our duck in terms of that and hopefully that will give the boys more confidence in the future when they play bigger games.
“We haven’t set any targets. If we can get to the second, we get to it but all we’ll do is keep trying to get points on the table and see where it takes us.
“Last year third place got you Europe and this year it doesn’t so it’s one of those things.”
Saturday’s game was a stirring advertisement for the Irish League.
The home side opened the scoring when Daniel Kearns was played in by Eoin Bradley after seven minutes. Jamie Mulgrew equalised with a stunning strike 10 minutes later before Joel Cooper restored Glenavon’s advantage four minutes into the second half.
Mulgrew and Kirk Millar then combined for the latter to bring the visitors level again on 51 but Hamilton’s side were not to be denied. A curling free-kick by Andy Hall came back off the post and Cooper pounced to net the winner with 16 minutes remaining.
If Glenavon are to maintain their push, the continued good form of Saturday’s goalscorers will be as important as that of more established players. Hamilton, who came on for Bradley in the 70th minute, was full of praise for both new signing Kearns and Cooper.
“Daniel has been on fire since he came to the club. He’s a great lad and it’s not just his ability – it’s his work-rate and his effort off the ball too,” he said.
“He’s an exceptional talent as he’s proving week-in and week-out.
“Joel’s come in and he’s been brilliant. Again he’s a young kid. We can’t take the credit for that because Ballyclare are the team that developed him – he broke into their first team and did a great job.
“And now he’s come into our league and there are still a few wee ends to tighten up but in terms of again his attitude and his hunger and his desire – it’s plain to be seen and he’s got great ability too.
“And when he’s on song, he’s very hard to play against. I wouldn’t want to be a defender marking him but hopefully we’ll see the best of him in another couple of years because he’s still only 19.
“He’s still got a lot of learning to do and hopefully he’ll only get better and better.”
Elsewhere on Saturday, Crusaders beat Warrenpoint Town 3-1 in what was an 11th straight defeat for the Seasiders. A Paul Heatley opener and two from Jordan Forsythe maintained the Crues’ five-point lead at the top of the table. Daniel Hughes scored a consolation for ’Point.
Cliftonville stay in second after a 3-1 defeat of Ballinamallard United. Davy McDaid netted twice after a Colm McLauglin own goal. James McKenna replied for the visitors.
Coleraine have climbed to third in the table and are now unbeaten in 10 league games following their 2-1 win against Carrick Rangers. Lyndon Kane and Jamie McGonigle put Oran Kearney’s men two-up before Aaron Harmon halved the deficit.
Honours were even between Ballymena United and Portadown at the Showgrounds. Sean Mackle put the Ports in front on 55 and Allan Jenkins equalised 13 minutes from the end. Portadown stay in seventh, two points ahead of Ballymena in eighth.