Belfast Telegraph

Jonny Tuffey: Glenavon ready for fired-up Welders

By Stuart McKinley

Jonny Tuffey is rallying his Glenavon teammates with the message that attitudes have to be right otherwise lightning could strike twice.

Tuffey wasn't at Glenavon when, as holders, they crashed out of the Irish Cup at the hands of Championship side H&W Welders last season.

And he doesn't want to experience the same feeling that his colleagues did 12 months ago.

Glenavon boss Gary Hamilton will be well aware of the threat that the Welders will pose this time around and in order to avoid being the victims of another upset Tuffey wants to ensure that the game is approached in the same manner as a battle with any of the Premiership big guns.

"It's another game that we want to win," said Tuffey.

"In my eyes it doesn't matter if you are playing Crusaders, Linfield or someone from the Amateur League, it's a game of football that you want to win.

"Your mindset has to be the same no matter who it is.

"Nothing gives Glenavon a right to go to the Welders and win. They have as much right as we do.

"For us it is about attitude, having the mental strength to go there and hopefully overcome a really difficult test."

Tuffey was unable to help Linfield win a major trophy during his two seasons at Windsor Park.

That is something that he wants to put right at Glenavon, who won the Irish Cup just two years ago.

The 28-year-old admits to being at a crossroads when he was allowed to leave Windsor Park last summer, but is in no doubt that he made the right move, thanks to manager Hamilton, assistant boss Paul Millar and goalkeeper coach Reggie Hillen, who he wants to repay with silverware

"Performances would suggest that I am a better goalkeeper now than I was a year ago," said Tuffey.

"I would say I am a lot more clear and understanding of my role in the team. I am a lot more mentally aware of where I need to be at as a goalkeeper.

"I'm there to save shots. If you can't save shots there's no point in being a goalkeeper, but the other side of it - my decision making, coming for crosses, which always supposedly made me a target for other teams, I have worked hard on that and it's clear in my mind where I need to be and what I need to be doing.

"Reggie Hillen, in my eyes, is one of the best in the business.

"He has had me back in since May, when I signed for the club. He identified a lot of the things he wanted to work on and he has been absolutely battering me ever since, but I am thoroughly enjoying it.

"He has taken a lot of the weight off me, he has got me back to where I knew I could be and where I hope to stay for a long time.

"If you look at performances then yes, you could say that I am better than I was."

The smile is back on Tuffey's face after his tough time at Linfield and no wonder, his record of three clean sheets in four games during December won him the Belleek Player of the Month award. (pictured).

The move to Glenavon has been a win-win situation and if they can see off the Welders the hopes of lifting the Cup again will only increase.

"It was difficult last season. I'm not the type that wants to sit about and pick up wages. I want to play and enjoy it. Warren Feeney had a decision to make and I respect that," he said.

"I have been in the game long enough to know how it works, but the one thing that people can't throw at me is that I threw the towel in.

"Gary has given me a great platform to go and play football and enjoy it again and I am very grateful."

Belfast Telegraph


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