Belfast Telegraph

Linfield v Glentoran: Hitman Hamilton relishing shot at Blues

By Graham Luney

Gary Hamilton has a clear message to any side hoping to wrestle the Gibson Cup from Linfield — win the games you are supposed to win.

The former Northern Ireland international returned to the Glentoran first team last weekend but his comeback was marred by a shock 2-1 home defeat to Donegal Celtic.

Despite finding the Hoops net, Hamilton, together with his team-mates, left the Oval with confidence now fragile ahead of the first Big Two battle of the campaign at Windsor Park tomorrow.

Hamilton, who spent much of last season on loan at Glenavon, belongs on a Big Two stage but he knows that Glentoran — and any other title-chasing dreamers — must develop Linfield’s winning mentality if they are to hunt down the Blues.

“The minimum requirement at Glentoran is to challenge for trophies,” said Hamilton who was slapped on the club’s transfer list but has now agreed to take a pay cut and is back in the first team after peace talks with boss Scott Young.

“But you’ve got to take your hat off and give immense credit to David Jeffrey and his Linfield players who have dominated the local game for years.

“Davy has them well trained and prepared for matches but they also have the right attitude and winning mentality.

“A lot of teams can match Linfield in an 11 v 11 game but they have a never say die attitude that wins them league titles and we are all striving to get that siege mentality they have.

“They won’t accept defeat and keep going right to the end. If we want to match them we must put the so-called lesser teams to bed. We have to perform week in, week out like they do.”

The DC defeat was further confirmation that it will be another challenging season for a Glentoran team boasting some experienced campaigners but also an influx of young talent.

And yet while the personnel changes, the desire to capture silverware at Belfast’s Big Two never dwindles.

No doubt there were occasions over the past year when Hamilton thought his playing days at the Glens were over but he could yet play a part in writing a few more east Belfast fairytales.

“I haven’t changed in the sense that I’m a winner no matter who I am playing for,” he added.

“We have to be team players — this game is not about us as individuals. I’m pleased to be playing again but I’ve always had the attitude of ‘never say never’ and things could change.”

One player the Blues defence will need to keep a close eye on is Stephen Carson.

“Nobody can tell me anything different — Stephen has been the best winger in the league for the majority of his playing days,” Hamilton said.

“He’s a real old school winger and Glentoran fans have always loved good wing men like Stuart Elliott, Tim McCann and Glen Little. Players like that torture defences.”

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