Hat-trick hero Lavery feared his big chance had gone
Glentoran's Irish Cup hat-trick hero Chris Lavery confessed he thought he might never get the opportunity to play in the Danske Bank Premiership again.
On Tuesday night, the winger scored a treble against Ards in a 4-1 Irish Cup fifth round rout at The Oval.
Lavery had stints in the top flight with both Glenavon and Dungannon Swifts, but after a difficult time at Stangmore Park, he signed for Championship Two club Lurgan Celtic.
The 25-year-old explained: "I had doubts about whether I would ever play in the Premiership again, but my aim was always to get back to the top level.
"So at Lurgan Celtic, I knuckled down and played my own game. It was a great chance for me.
"Once Lurgan Celtic were promoted to Championship One I knew there was a possibility I would get spotted again if I played well. Luckily that happened."
Lavery's hat-trick on his home debut showcased his undoubted talent to the Glentoran faithful, who will see their side take on Warrenpoint tomorrow.
And he's now become the first Glens ace to hit a treble on his Oval debut since legend Gary McCartney in the early '90s.
Lavery's third goal, which arrived in stoppage time, was arguably the pick of the bunch.
The winger collected the ball from a short corner before beating a defender and powering the ball home from an acute angle.
Reflecting on his cup treble, Lavery said: "A hat-trick and a man of the match award on my home debut - I couldn't have asked for much more.
"I'm just delighted to be here, never mind scoring hat-tricks.
"I thought the third goal would never come. I clipped the crossbar, hit the post, had a chance saved, but finally it came in injury-time.
"I would have settled for two before kick-off but after the first two goals I really wanted the hat-trick, so I was delighted when it came."
After his fine performances in both Championship Two and Championship One for Lurgan Celtic, a number of clubs were chasing Lavery's signature, but Alan Kernaghan convinced him to join the Glens.
"When I spoke to Alan he was very positive and he told me he wanted to bring me into the team. There were other clubs interested, like Portadown, but as soon as I spoke to Alan I knew Glentoran was where I wanted to go.
"I've been really impressed with the manager. He's very clear in what he wants me to do. He's the main reason why I'm here."
With a sixth round Irish Cup tie against Glenavon over a fortnight a way, Lavery is focused on helping the east-Belfast club climb the league table, starting with the Warrenpoint clash.
"I can't afford to get carried away. I've got to take each game as it comes. Warrenpoint is now my focus as it's vital that we take three points from it," he added.-
"I've just got to keep training hard and working hard."