Belfast Telegraph

Glenavon boss Gary Hamilton gets his set-piece goal wish as Sharkey delivers in Mid-Ulster Cup Final

Glenavon Manager Gary Hamilton was pleased to see goals coming from set-pieces
Glenavon Manager Gary Hamilton was pleased to see goals coming from set-pieces

By Gareth McCullough

Gary Hamilton has been calling for more goals from set-pieces this season and Seamus Sharkey duly obliged for his manager during last night’s Euro-Electrix Mid-Ulster Cup Final.

The centre-back scored his first two goals for the Lurgan Blues, including the late winner, in the 4-3 victory over Warrenpoint Town at Mourneview Park as Hamilton’s side retained the trophy after coming from 2-0 down in the first half. 

After Ciaran O’Connor and Lee Duffy had put the ‘Point into what looked to be a comfortable early lead, Glenavon hit back to level by half-time courtesy of strikes from on-loan Linfield striker Cameron Stewart and Conor McCloskey.

After Sharkey had headed Glenavon in front for the first time from Sammy Clingan’s free-kick in the second period, Eamon Scannell looked to have sent the tie to extra-time before former Sligo Rovers man Sharkey popped up with the winner in the 89th minute, as he nodded home McCloskey’s corner.

“We’ve been asking for that from our boys that go into the box from set plays, whether it’s centre-halves or centre forwards. We haven’t scored enough goals this season from set-pieces. It was a big strength of ours over the years, but for some reason this year we’ve been very poor in terms of goal return. We’re just delighted tonight that we managed to get two because it’s been a while coming,” said Hamilton who is aiming to keep the winning run going when Crusaders come to Mourneview on Saturday.  

“That’s four wins on the bounce now. It’s good for the boys and it gives them confidence going into the remaining games. Hopefully we can carry it into the game on Saturday and get another positive result. We know we’re up against it when we play Crusaders because they’re a top side. But you never know. We certainly can’t be lacking in confidence at the minute,” added Hamilton, who was delighted for some of his younger players to experience that winning feeling.

“We finished the game with three 16-year-olds and it’s a great experience for the young kids. I’ve used this competition for that over the years. It’s super for them to be sitting at this age with their first senior medal.”

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For Warrenpoint boss Stephen McDonnell, it was two cup defeats in four days at the same venue for his side.

“We’ve gone away from home, scored three and conceded four after a 0-0 at the weekend where we didn’t create, but didn’t look like conceding. That’s where we’re at  and you can make all the excuses in the world that they’re young and everything else.  But they’ve played 30-plus games so they’re not inexperienced any more. That’s a concern," he admitted.

“We need a few more stalwarts in there and we do miss that bit of experience and leadership there at times to see game like that out.

“The cups are gone and now we have five games in three weeks to achieve something the club has never done – to finish on more than 34 points and to finish in the highest position the club can possibly finish."

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