Belfast Telegraph

Veteran Ciaran Martyn a triple hero as Glenavon hold Cliftonville

By Conor McLaughlin

Gary Hamilton sung Ciaran Martyn's praises after the veteran midfielder completed a hat-trick with two late goals to deny Cliftonville what looked like an odds-on home victory.

A quickfire double from Joe Gormley and a home debut strike from Davy McDaid had helped the Reds turn things around after falling behind to Martyn's ninth minute opener.

But the former Derry City and Glentoran ace would have the contest's final say when he first reduced the arrears from Eoin Bradley's sensational assist before hooking home a dramatic injury-time leveller.

"He has always had the ability to score goals and he made a really big impact here," said Hamilton.

"You can't put a price on a goalscoring midfielder and he's done it throughout his career, from his days at Derry, which earned him a move to Sweden, and then in the Irish League with Glentoran.

"His goals to games ratio in his first season with us was fantastic and, even though he's 34 now, he's still doing the job and I'm delighted for him to have got his hat-trick here.

"He's scored so many important goals for us since he joined Glenavon and he's done it again to get us a big result because, even though we've played very well at Solitude in the last few years, it's not often we've actually come away with any points.

"I'm really pleased for Ciaran too because he's a great guy whose attitude is always right and he never moans or huffs when he's left out of the team.

"I actually remember there was a time last season when the people who would usually be top of the list to wear the captain's armband were all unavailable and I decided that, because his form hadn't been too good, I'd give Ciaran the captaincy for a game just to boost his confidence.

"I took him aside before the match but, before I could tell him he was skipper for the day, he said, 'I know why you want to speak to me, gaffer – you're dropping me because I was crap last week and I've no complaints, so you don't need to explain your decision'.

"I don't think he could believe it when I told him the real reason!

"But that just shows the type of person he is and, even at 34, he's proving he can still do a job in what is a very demanding position in a very demanding league."

Thrilled though he was to clock up a personal milestone, Martyn's greater interest was in ensuring the Lurgan Blues came out of the contest with something to show for their efforts.

"This is the first time I've ever scored three goals in one game," he revealed.

"I've scored two in a game quite a few times but never managed to get the third.

"I know I have waited a long time to get the hat-trick but what makes it extra special is that we got something from the game.

"That's the most important thing because we started the game so well and then it felt like we were dead and buried.

"We have a great squad this season and it is great when we can bring on the likes of Gary Hamilton in the closing stages because he has been one of the best players in the Irish League down the years and his experience is vital to us.

"We have also added Ciaran Caldwell this week and he is a very, very good player.

"I always enjoyed playing against him and now I'm looking forward to playing with him, too. He can play in a number of positions and scores goals from midfield which is great.

"It's going to be a long season so everyone in the squad is going to have to play their part. When you are two goals down against the champions in the last seven minutes and still take something from the game, it sets the bar pretty high.

"But that is the standard we have to expect now and try to better it. We've shown we can beat anyone on our day but we have to add consistency to our game now."

Reds boss Tommy Breslin said: "We're disappointed obviously because we should have managed the game better and seen it out at the end, but credit to Glenavon for fighting until the last minute.

"We've probably been guilty of thinking the game was won – and maybe the same could be said for those of us on the sidelines – and have shot ourselves in the foot in the last few minutes of the match, but it's something we'll look to learn from."

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