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Glenavon hoping two new signings can replicate impact of Joel Cooper and Eoin Bradley at Mourneview Park


Striker Matthew Fitzpatrick is one of three new signings for Glenavon

Striker Matthew Fitzpatrick is one of three new signings for Glenavon

Striker Matthew Fitzpatrick is one of three new signings for Glenavon

Glenavon boss Gary Hamilton is hoping his two latest signings can rewind the clock to better days at Mourneview Park.

The Lurgan club announced three new recruits in two days with former Crusaders defender Sean Ward joined by Loughgall winger Peter Campbell and ex-Coleraine forward Matthew Fitzpatrick.

Hamilton knows what it takes to create a successful squad, having won two Irish Cups in his eight-and-a-half years in charge and also sealed four third-place finishes in five seasons up until 18/19.

The most recent 12 months have been a little more of a struggle with the club missing out on a top six place for the first time since 2013.

Now the boss is hoping he's going backwards to go forwards.

The last time he enjoyed Irish Cup success in 2016, two key cogs in the squad were winger Joel Cooper and striker Eoin Bradley.

And he's hoping Campbell and Fitzpatrick can tackle the voids that have proved difficult to fill since that duo's departures.

First of all, winger Campbell is another arrival from the Championship, as Cooper was when Hamilton gave him his top tier break in 2015.

“He’s a player I’ve been trying to get for a few years and I’m delighted to finally welcome him to Mourneview Park,” Hamilton told the club website of 22-year-old Campbell, who attracted interest from Coleraine during the January window.

“Back when we approached Loughgall, their manager Dean Smith felt that he could do with a couple more years in the Championship.

“He has scored 15 goals from the wing this season and he’s very creative too – that’s why we have signed him. He reminds me of Joel Cooper in that regard and I certainly hope that Peter can have the same impact with us that Joel had when he joined us from Ballyclare Comrades.”

Striker Fitzpatrick, like Bradley, is an established GAA star making a late move to soccer.

He was nominated for an Ulster Allstar last year for his performances for Antrim's senior football squad before declaring himself unavailable for 2020 to pursue an Irish League career.

Having impressed for Belfast Celtic in the Ballymena and Provincial Football League, the 25-year-old earned a move to Coleraine in January but was released by the club last month.

“I watched him when he was at Belfast Celtic along with our former coach Andy Mathieson," said Hamilton. "We tried to sign him along with Danny McKee, but he opted for Coleraine.

“He’s a very powerful athlete, a lot like Eoin Bradley is and Skinner is one of the hardest players to play against in the league. He’s someone I see as being very much in that mould.

“Matthew has a great attitude and is full of hunger and desire to do well. He was a talented gaelic player for Antrim and you have to admire a player of his skill giving up the sport to give football a crack.”

Glenavon are also expected to add Matthew Snoddy to their panel after the midfielder, who spent time on loan at Mourneview last season, was released by Crusaders.

Belfast Telegraph