Belfast Telegraph

Millar praises Hamilton for quality of Glenavon squad

Glenavon 4-0 Carrick Rangers

By Kris Jack

Paddy McCourt's Danske Bank Premiership debut may have ended prematurely, but his Glenavon team-mates made it an opening day to remember as they ran out 4-0 winners over a new-look Carrick Rangers at Mourneview Park.

The Irish Cup holders hit the headlines with the marquee signing of the former Celtic man, but it was right-back Rhys Marshall who rightly earned the plaudits with his two goals.

The ever-improving Joel Cooper and left-back Mark Patton also chipped in as Gary Hamilton's side fired a warning that they won't be about one man this season. Indeed, assistant boss Paul Millar was quick to praise the work of Hamilton and his ability to build a capable squad.

"We lost one player, Conor Dylan, last year and we've brought in four," said Millar. "And the four we've brought in have enhanced our squad.

"Here we lost Simon Kelly and Kris Lindsay came on, we've lost Fabio (Declan O'Brien) and Gary Hamilton came on, we lost Paddy and Andy Hall came on, who had the most assists in the league last year. When you think of the squad Gary has built, we've got stronger every year."

In adding McCourt and bringing back striker Guy Bates, Glenavon's intent for the season seems to be on boosting their attacking options and in the early stages the pair linked up well.

McCourt was the fulcrum early on until a hard, but fair, challenge from TJ Murray stymied his movement, forcing him off before half-time. However, three minutes after the break, Glenavon took the lead in style through Marshall, who smashed a shot into the top corner.

His second came just moments after Cooper had doubled their advantage, going past his man before shooting low across Carrick keeper Brian Neeson.

Patton sauntered up the left wing unchallenged to bury past Neeson for 4-0 on 87 minutes.

New Carrick boss Kieran Harding said: "The few clear cut chances we had, we didn't take them. We've got to get ourselves to a position where we are competitive. We showed signs in the first half but probably our fitness has let us down."

GLENAVON: Tuffey, Marshall, Kelly (Lindsay, 17 mins), Elebert, Patton, Kilmartin, Sykes, Cooper, McCourt (Hall, 43 mins), O'Brien (Hamilton, 75 mins), Bates. Unused subs: McGrory, Martyn

Carrick: Neeson, McKeown, McNally, McCullough (English, 83 mins), Murray, Clarke (Morrow, 75 mins), Foster, McNicholl, McCaul (Chines, 62 mins), Hanley, Lavery.Unused subs: Rice, Taggart.

Referee: Steven Taylor (Belfast).

Star watch

Paddy McCourt: All eyes were on McCourt from kick-off, as arguably the biggest signing of the summer in the NIFL Premiership made his bow for Glenavon. That looked to be the case as his class, experience and skill were on display from the off. Pass after pass was sprayed out to both wings as he began in a central role. His preferred outlet was Cooper on the left, and as the half wore on, the pair swapped positions to keep the Carrick defence on their toes. A shoulder dip here, a quick turn there and a penchant for pinging passes with the outside of his right boot gave the home fans a glimpse of what to expect. However, after taking a dull one from TJ Murray, he was subbed before half-time.



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