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Glenavon boss Gary Hamilton sympathetic as Paddy McCourt leaves to ponder future

By Graham Luney

Paddy McCourt has a big call to make regarding his future in football after the curtain was brought down early on his short spell at Glenavon.

The 33-year-old is set to sit out the rest of the season and make a decision about his future in the summer.

After struggling to adapt to the part-time nature of Irish League football, the Northern Ireland winger will now consider his next move and there will inevitably be fears he will hang up his boots.

The former Derry City favourite left Luton Town in May after wife Laura was diagnosed with a brain tumour and it remains to be seen whether McCourt has the appetite to play on.

Along with Glentoran's Nacho Novo and Linfield's Roy Carroll and Sammy Clingan, McCourt was one of the big-name signings in the summer expected to light up the Danske Bank Premiership, but the fireworks failed to materialise.

After joining the Mourneview Park outfit in July, Lurgan Blues fans were hopeful the man who has netted twice in 18 international appearances could rediscover his old magic, but his season's statistics underline his struggles - 13 appearances (10 league, three cup), two goals (one league, one cup) and one yellow card.

A mutual agreement to terminate his contract in December is not how the fairytale was supposed to finish, but Glenavon boss Gary Hamilton will soon turn his focus to strengthening the team next month.

"Paddy is a model professional and he's been very honourable and shown great integrity in the way he has dealt with me," said Hamilton.

"He feels that he hasn't reached the heights he had hoped to and I feel that sometimes the way we played didn't suit Paddy. When I signed him I had hoped he would fit in with our style of play at the time but it hasn't worked out that way so we agreed that it would be best for both parties to release him.

"Paddy told me he has found it difficult to adjust to part-time football from being full-time and he missed the full-time regime of training every day. Myself, the coaching staff and the players have all really enjoyed working with Paddy and I personally wish him all the best in whatever he chooses to do as he weighs up his options."

McCourt, who spent five seasons at Celtic, joined Glenavon in July along with Guy Bates, both men agreeing one-year deals.

One of his few highlights in a Glenavon jersey was scoring in the 2-2 draw against Linfield past makeshift goalkeeper Mark Haughey but he couldn't pin down a regular starting role.

Glenavon, who are still nursing a League Cup hangover after their surprise semi-final loss to Carrick Rangers, were hungry to flex their muscles against Crusaders on Saturday and Hamilton made six changes.

But the champions were too strong for the visitors, winning 3-1, and the scoreline could have been more convincing if it wasn't for the brilliance of goalkeeper Jonny Tuffey.

Defender Kris Lindsay said there were some encouraging signs from his side's performance but he accepts they need to breathe fresh life into their Premiership campaign.

Seven victories in 20 league outings is a disappointing return for the club who finished last season on an incredible high after clinching their second Irish Cup win in three seasons.

"I think we were a bit more like ourselves, particularly in the second half at Seaview," argued former Linfield defender Lindsay, who is suspended for the big Boxing Day battle with Portadown at Shamrock Park.

"We are going through a bit of a sticky spell but we must stick together and get back to basics. We will work hard and get the basics right.

"There is enough quality in our squad to put a run together and get ourselves back up the league.

"The talk before the season was of us putting a title challenge together but we never really got started. We have done well in games and then been poor.

"The inconsistency has hurt us which is why we need to work hard and put a run together. I'm suspended for the Boxing Day game but there's no motivation needed for that one.

"Anything less than three points will be disappointing."

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