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Gary Hamilton: Irish Cup is a huge competition for Glenavon and Crusaders… expect a hard-fought game

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Rested up: Gary Hamilton hopes the break will have done his side some good. Credit: INPHO/Matt Mackey

Rested up: Gary Hamilton hopes the break will have done his side some good. Credit: INPHO/Matt Mackey

Rested up: Gary Hamilton hopes the break will have done his side some good. Credit: INPHO/Matt Mackey

Glenavon boss Gary Hamilton is hoping that a six-day break will be enough for his players to give their all when Crusaders visit Mourneview Park tomorrow night for the match of the round in the Irish Cup.

The only all-Premiership tie has been brought forward from Saturday, which should favour the home side as Crusaders were in action on Tuesday in the north Belfast derby, but it was Glenavon who were showing signs of fatigue last weekend in a tame surrender to Cliftonville.

Having played 55 minutes with only nine men in a herculean effort to beat Portadown, Hamilton admitted his players were jaded five days on when the much fresher Reds side, who did not have a festive fixture, won with even more comfort than the 2-0 scoreline would suggest.

“Hopefully we can get our energy levels back in training this week and get going on Friday night and get a result,” said Hamilton. “Cliftonville deservedly won the match last Saturday and were the better side throughout.

“But we want to win every game and Friday will be no different, it’s going to be another tough game and Crusaders are in a similar position to us, the Cup is a big competition for them.”

Remarkably, this is Glenavon’s seventh successive home game in the Irish Cup, but they have been spread across five seasons, having lost their opening match in each of the last two, against Coleraine and Dungannon.

Crusaders return to the ‘scene of the crime’ tomorrow night, the venue for their controversial penalty exit in last year’s semi-final to Larne, so they will have plenty to prove.

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But following their superb 2-0 win at Solitude, the boot is on the other foot for the Crues who have less than 72 hours to recover, although Hamilton points out that as virtually a full-time team they will have enjoyed much better preparation and can cope with two games in a week much better than the part-time teams.

“It’s going to be a tough game. Crusaders were down here the other week, a good side, and they’ll be coming here exactly with the same impetus as us, especially after their result against Cliftonville,” added the Glenavon boss.

It is six years since the teams last met in the Irish Cup, a thrilling semi-final at Windsor Park which the Lurgan Blues won 4-3.


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