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Glenavon are determined to keep hold of Cup: Tuffey

By David Mason

Goalkeeper Johnny Tuffey insists his team will be giving Portstewart the respect they deserve in tomorrow's Tennent's Irish Cup tie at Mourneview Park. Gary Hamilton's boys, who lifted the trophy last season following their win over Linfield in the final, approach the fifth round clash as hot favourites to see off their junior opponents.

But former Northern Ireland shot stopper Tuffey believes Glenavon are in a 'no win' situation.

He said: "The perception of most people is that Glenavon will coast home, but this is cup football, it doesn't work like that. We could end up with egg on our face if we don't prepare properly.

"Yes, we'll go in as favourites, but we have to be mentally right. We have to give them the same respect as we would give Crusaders or Linfield.

"They'll come to our place with no fear - there will be no pressure on them. All the pressure will be on us."

Although, it will be the start of the Lurgan Blues' defence of the trophy, Tuffey shrugs off the suggestion of that heaping on even greater pressure.

"I don't get caught up in all that," he said. "We won it last season, which was great for the club, but that's now gone. We take each game as it comes, regardless if it's a league or cup fixture."

Glenavon are coming off an exciting 4-3 league win at Ballymena United, but they had to recover from a 3-1 deficit before claiming all three points.

"It was a crazy match," added Tuffey. "It must have been great for any neutrals that were at the game. To be honest, we were unhappy at the goals we conceded, they were sloppy.

"But fair play to the boys, they battled back to get the win. The two boys up front, Guy Bates and Greg Moorhouse (who bagged a hat-trick), are really beginning to hit it off.

"It was a great battling performance - a bit like the Glenavon of last season.

"We've had a few disappointing results in the league, but over the past three or four weeks, we have started to turn in the performances we know we are capable of."

Although the Irish Cup will be a welcome distraction from the pressure of picking up league points, Tuffey insists Hamilton will not allow any complacency to creep in against the Northern Ireland Intermediate League side.

"There is no chance of that," he added. "Gary does his homework on every team. Portstewart are in the fifth round on merit, so we'll be giving them our respect."

Meanwhile, Glenavon have opted to contest the Irish FA's charge that the club fielded an ineligible player against Portadown on Boxing Day.

The sides drew 2-2 but the Lurgan Blues have been punished for fielding a suspended player, David Elebert, in the match at Shamrock Park.

Under Irish FA rules, the match has now been recorded as a 3-0 win for the Ports with Glenavon also fined £350.

But Glenavon said they had checked Elebert's eligibility with the governing body before including him in their team.

Elebert had been suspended for one game from December 19 for five bookings, three of which were picked up during reserve team matches.

Glenavon felt Elebert had completed the suspension when he sat out a reserve fixture - but IFA rules dictate that such suspensions apply to the "more senior team".

The club decided at a Board meeting last night to appeal the Irish FA's decision.

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