Belfast Telegraph

Mark Sykes delighted to switch from stands to pitch in Irish Cup quest

By Stuart McKinley

Mark Sykes will swap his scarf for a smart new suit when he leaves home on Saturday morning to head to the Irish Cup final.

Sykes sat among the fans as a 16-year-old when Glenavon lifted the trophy in 2014, cheering on the players who he now calls his team mates.

This time, however, he is hoping to be in the thick of the action. Although that depends on which two from Sykes, Ciaran Martyn and Andrew Kilmartin manager Gary Hamilton selects in the centre of his midfield.

With 25 league appearances to his name this season and Hamilton tipping him to go on and win full international honours, Sykes would appear to be well placed to get the nod ahead of his more experienced colleagues - both of whom have Irish Cup winners' medals in their collection already.

"I was actually at the match two years ago as a fan. I wasn't part of the squad, but it was phenomenal," said the 18-year-old.

"It feels really good to be part of it this time. It's obviously very different as a player than it is being a fan.

"The crowd really got behind the team and hopefully they will do that again this year and we can win it again."

An Irish Cup medal would cap a great first full season in the first team for Sykes.

"I feel I've done well this season. I didn't really expect to play as many games as I have when I came into the team. Luckily for me I've played over 25 games this season and I didn't expect that and I've really enjoyed it," he said.

"I've learned a lot from the players around me. I was more attack minded when I first played and I have really adapted to the game defensively."

Belfast Telegraph


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