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Healy set to rely on Deane in showpiece

Glenavon 0 - Linfield 1

By Ian Callender

Published 02/05/2016

Commanding: Gary Hamilton (centre) excelled in the unfamiliar role of centre-back
Commanding: Gary Hamilton (centre) excelled in the unfamiliar role of centre-back

Gareth Deane is likely to be the first name on the Linfield team sheet for Saturday's Irish Cup Final against Glenavon.

The 21-year-old was left out of the squad for the 1-0 win over the Lurgan Blues on Saturday along with several big names who will feature in the showpiece.

Ross Glendinning, who has been in possession of the number one jersey for most of the campaign, returned to the team in one of 11 changes made by boss David Healy.

Glendinning is now fearing he will be left out in the cold on Saturday while Deane's ninth Linfield appearance could be one of the biggest of his career.

With finalists Linfield and Glenavon confirmed in second and third places respectively before the game, both managers changed their entire team ahead of the season-ending showpiece.

It was another shut-out for the Blues, delighting Healy.

"A fourth successive win and a fourth clean sheet and I'm delighted no-one got injured or suspended," he said.

"It gave me the opportunity to bed in a few of the younger players and it was nice to see them make an impression and a few of them did that, especially big Adam McCallum who partnered Mark Stafford in the centre of defence."

The hero was 19-year-old Ruairi Croskery who, on his first start for the club, headed in a right-wing corner from 16-year-old substitute Eamon Scannell.

It was a day for the teenagers and the Glenavon team, which had four debutants in the starting line-up, had a couple of 15-year-olds who got their chance on the big stage. And player-boss Gary Hamilton was also happy with what he saw.

"I thought the young lads were excellent," he said.

"We finished the game with two Fourth Years, Alex McIlmail and Harry Robinson, and a Fifth Year, Bobby Burns, at left-back, was my man of the match. It will take time for them to come through but the potential and quality is there."

Hamilton modestly excluded himself from the man of the match ratings but he was announced over Mourneview Park's PA system as the best player and that was, for once, an accurate assessment.

Playing his first competitive game at centre-half, it was as if he had played there all his career.

GLENAVON: McGrath, McGrory, Savage, Hamilton (McKeown, 70 mins), Burns, Norton (Morgan, 58 mins), Sykes (Robinson, 75 mins), Kearns, Delaney, O'Brien, McIlmail.

LINFIELD: Ross Glendinning, Foster (Neale, 82 mins), Stafford, McCallum, Reece Glendinning, Fallon, Clarke, Quinn (Scannell, 62 mins), Lavery (Moore, 70 mins), Croskery, McLellan.

Match Rating: 7/10

Man of match: Gary Hamilton

Referee: Arnold Hunter (Maguiresbridge)

Belfast Telegraph

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