Belfast Telegraph

Gary Hamilton wary of unrealistic expectation levels

By Stuart McKinley

Gary Hamilton believes that Glenavon could have done even better last season than claiming their highest finish in over a decade – but he's glad that they didn't.

The Lurgan Blues claimed a coveted place in the top six, but as far as Hamilton is concerned, had Mark Farren's career not been hit by a second cancer scare it could have been the top three.

Not that he wanted it.

Glenavon put a silver lining on their achievements by beating Ballymena United in the Irish Cup final to end a 17-year trophy famine.

Despite that success the astute Mourneview Park boss is careful not to raise expectation levels too quickly, or beyond what he believes to be realistic.

And that's why he is telling fans not to expect to break into the upper echelons of the Premiership, even though Alan Blayney, Eoin Bradley and Kevin Braniff have been added to the squad during the summer.

"We had plenty of goals in the team last season – I think the statistics show that," said Hamilton.

"We lost Mark Farren midway through the season when his illness came back.

"With him in the team we would have finished even higher and I don't mean this in a bad way, but I'm glad we didn't.

"With Mark's finishing ability he would have given us another 20 goals and that could have put us in the top three.

"That would have been a false position though and it would have put us under pressure as a club because I don't think we would have been able to match it this season.

"Yes, on paper we should score more goals this season after signing Kevin Braniff and Eoin Bradley, but there are no guarantees of that.

"We want to progress year-on-year, not go too high too quickly and then end up falling back."

Glenavon kick off their campaign on Saturday at home to Crusaders – who did record a top-three finish last season.

Hamilton sees Stephen Baxter's side being a threat again this season after a couple of astute additions to their squad.

"All the clubs in the league have improved their squads and Crusaders have signed well, bringing in Billy Joe Burns from Linfield and Diarmuid O'Carroll from Cliftonville," said Hamilton.

"The top six will be our target again.

"Going any higher will be difficult because of the fact that all of the other teams have improved their squads, so everyone will probably stay in the same positions."

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