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In-demand Josh Clarke using Glenavon as springboard for big international future after Northern Ireland call

Glenavon 3 Ballymena United 1


Glenavon boss Gary Hamilton embraces young Josh Clarke. Credit: Alan Weir

Glenavon boss Gary Hamilton embraces young Josh Clarke. Credit: Alan Weir

Glenavon boss Gary Hamilton embraces young Josh Clarke. Credit: Alan Weir

He might be only 17, but Glenavon’s new goalkeeper Josh Clarke has already got plenty of international experience about him.

The former AFC Bournemouth goalkeeper has turned out at underage level for Sweden, England and the Republic of Ireland and recently was involved with Northern Ireland when Ian Baraclough called him up for the friendlies against Luxembourg and Hungary.

Now he has been signed as an emergency stop-gap by the Lurgan Blues, who were left without a goalkeeper after James Taylor’s sending off against Coleraine.

Clarke impressed on his senior debut, saving a penalty along the way, and is hoping that his international experience can carry through to his time at Mourneview Park.

“I can’t thank Ian Baraclough and Roy Carroll enough for bringing me into the Northern Ireland team,” he said.

“For me, just to experience that and see what it’s like at senior international level as a 17-year-old is fantastic.

“If I ever get a chance to experience something like that again, hopefully I’ll be prepared for it. To hear the fans at Windsor Park and to be on the bench in Luxembourg was such an experience.”

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Glenavon, who were reduced to 10 men when Danny Wallace was sent off in the second half, had a header from Calum Birney and a spectacular brace from Peter Campbell to thank for their 3-1 victory over Ballymena United.

United took the lead in the first half through Kym Nelson, and could have had a second just after the break from the penalty spot after Wallace had been sent off for fouling Mikey Place.

However, Clarke remained cool, calm and collected to deny Leroy Millar, who was later also given his marching orders after picking up two yellow cards.

“At the time I thought he was going to go across his body, he is quite a strong lad so I thought he might try to put it in that corner, so I dummied one way and went the other,” Clarke explained.

“I was pleased to make the save and help the team. It was my first senior men’s game so I’m delighted that it’s gone so well.”

Meanwhile, Glenavon have announced a raft of contract extensions, including four-year deals for Campbell, Birney, Danny Wallace, Matthew Fitzpatrick and Matthew Snoddy as well as a two-year agreement with Conor McCloskey and one-year deals for Sean Ward and Michael O’Connor.

GLENAVON: Clarke, Birney, Haughey, Campbell, Snoddy, McCloskey, Fitzpatrick, O’Mahony (Singleton 46 mins), Wallace, Garrett, Ward. Subs not used: Scannell, J Doyle, Lynch, Norton, Black, McGreevey-Crouchman.

BALLYMENA UNITED: Williamson, Redman (Keeley 71 mins), Kelly, Waide, McCullough, McGrory, Parkhouse, Millar, Graham (Kane 76 mins), Nelson, Place (McElroy 65 mins). Subs not used: Johnston, Henderson, Barr, Smith.

Referee: Jamie Robinson (Portadown).

Man of match: Peter Campbell

Match rating: 7/10.

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