Belfast Telegraph

Glenavon's name written on the trophy? Don't even think of telling Spike that

By Steven Beacom

More evidence that Glenavon's name is on the Irish Cup trophy.

In last Saturday's semi-final at Windsor Park against the Lurgan Blues, Crusaders were throwing away chances like confetti at a mid-Ulster wedding.

Gary McCutcheon and Jordan Owens are normally reliable finishers but they couldn't score furniture at the weekend when golden opportunities came their way. The Crues also missed a penalty when Chris Morrow fluffed his spot-kick allowing Glenavon goalkeeper James McGrath to save.

After riding their luck, the Mourneview Park men did not mess about at the other end to earn a 3-1 victory after extra-time.

Player-manager Gary Hamilton quite rightly received much praise for leading his side to what is the promised land for Glenavon.

They don't have the players (yet) to win the title, so making the Irish Cup decider is the ultimate for them right now.

Given their incredible run in the competition, which has included a dramatic last gasp victory at Glentoran and the semi success over Crusaders, little wonder that many of us believe fate is on their side.

The Ballymena United players, who will face them next month, will be out to kill that theory. While Hamilton has enjoyed a fine season at Glenavon, it's also worth noting how Ballymena continue to progress under Glenn Ferguson (left), the finest Irish League player I ever saw, just beating Glentoran legend Jim Cleary to that honour.

When appointed, 'Spike' cleverly recruited serial winners Lee Doherty, Norman Kelly and Wes Lamont to his coaching staff. The policy is bearing fruit.

Last season Ballymena won the County Antrim Shield and this term are in the Irish Cup final.

Bear in mind previous to Ferguson's reign, United's last trophy was in 1989!

Ferguson, of course, scored goals galore for Glenavon before he moved to Linfield, where he won every medal going, so this final will have extra meaning for him.

Not for one second will he be thinking Glenavon's name is on the trophy.

Belfast Telegraph

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