Belfast Telegraph

Jonny Tuffey targeting more European rewards for Glenavon

Cliftonville 1 Glenavon 3

By Conor McLaughlin

Jonny Tuffey is hopeful that Glenavon's big-game experience will hold them in good stead for the play-offs.

For the first time in four years, the Lurgan Blues - who comfortably saw off managerless Cliftonville at Solitude on Saturday - have neither automatic European qualification nor Irish Cup final commitments to call upon at this late stage of the season, but Tuffey believes the Mid-Ulster outfit are capable of booking their passport to the continent.

"We've known we're going to be in the play-offs for quite a while and it's just been a case of making sure everybody gets enough minutes on the pitch to keep them ticking over," he explained.

"I think the management have been doing a very good job of that and the big thing for us now is making sure that every single one of us is ready if called upon when the play-offs come around."

Assured of sixth place in the table, Glenavon know they'll be away in next month's play-off semi-finals but their precise destination won't be known until after Saturday's final round of Premiership fixtures - with either a return trip to face Cliftonville or a Showgrounds showdown with Ballymena United on the cards.

"Whoever we play, it's going to be a huge challenge because of what's at stake," added Tuffey.

"In the last few years, we've either qualified for Europe automatically or got there by winning the Irish Cup so this will be different for us, but maybe those cup wins can help us in the play-offs. Games like that will be treated like cup finals and hopefully we can come out on top."

Andy Hall's double put the Lurgan Blues in control on Saturday, with Andy McGrory rattling in the clincher after Martin Donnelly's free kick had briefly threatened a Reds revival.

Stand-in boss Mal Donaghy - who took charge following Gerard Lyttle's departure for Sligo Rovers less than 24 hours before kick-off - said he will be looking for a positive reaction when Cliftonville go in search of securing fourth place against Linfield next Saturday.

"Confidence is low at the minute but the players owe it to thesupporters to go out and put on a performance," he said.

"We can still qualify for Europe and we have that incentive."

CLIFTONVILLE: Burke, McGovern, Ives, Bonner, Curran, Garrett, J Donnelly, Cosgrove, A Donnelly, Finnegan, Nelson. Subs: Dunne, M Donnelly (A Donnelly, 46 mins), Seydak, Lavery (Finnegan, 61 mins), Reynolds (J Donnelly, 72 mins).

GLENAVON: Tuffey, Neill, Kelly, Kilmartin, Hall, Doyle, McGrory, Turner, Singleton, Bates, Jenkins. Subs: Marron (Kelly, 46 mins), Moorhouse (Jenkins, 78 mins), Norton (Turner, 46 mins), Gray, Renato.

Referee: Lee Tavinder (Dungannon)

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