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Mourneview must become Glenavon's fortress again so we can climb even higher: Hall

By Steven Beacom

Glenavon ace Andy Hall is determined to turn Mourneview Park into a fortress this season, starting at home to Linfield tomorrow.

After an incredible 2017/2018 campaign there has been a big build-up to this season's Danske Bank Premiership kick-off with Glenavon's fixture against Linfield the pick of the opening day encounters.

Gary Hamilton's side finished third last term, one place ahead of Linfield, and will be hoping to use that impressive performance in the league as a platform to secure European qualification again.

Attacking midfielder Hall will be a key figure in that ambition.

The 28-year-old isn't always given the praise he deserves for his application and ability, but Hamilton and his Glenavon team-mates know his worth to the side.

Capable of creating and scoring chances from open play, he is also adept from set-pieces and will have extra opportunities to show that quality with Bobby Burns having left for Hearts in the summer.

Hall is relishing the clash with David Healy's side and keen to make Lurgan a tough place to visit for opposing sides in the months ahead.

"Last season I think our form away from home was actually better which was surprising because previous to that we were hard to beat at Mourneview," said the ex-Bangor ace.

"We let ourselves down a little bit at home when we lost a few times and there were far too many draws so this season we want to make Mourneview a fortress again and ensure that it is difficult and uncomfortable for opposition sides to come to our ground.

"We'll look to win as many games as possible at home, starting against Linfield, and pick up as many points away for our points tally with the aim to finish high in the table again."

Matches between Glenavon and Linfield tend to be dramatic.

Saturday's game has an extra edge with former Mourneview man Joel Cooper set to line up for Healy's side as well as another Glenavon old boy Daniel Kearns, two new signings that have brought hope to Blues supporters after a trophyless campaign.

"It really is a great game to start the league campaign," says Hall.

"In the first match of the season everyone wants to get a positive result and for us there is no better match to start with.

"Linfield will be hurting a bit after what happened last season and it adds spice that our former player Joel Cooper has signed for them.

"Also they now have Daniel Kearns who was with us too so it will be very interesting.

"I'm sure they would have been looking to see when they played Glenavon so for it to come first up at Mourneview I'm sure it will be a great occasion.

"Linfield turned us over twice at Mourneview Park last season and we beat them twice at Windsor so the away team was on top in the games, but hopefully that will be different on Saturday and then the plan will be to kick on from there."

Hall's midfield partner Sammy Clingan said at the Premiership launch on Wednesday night that his move to Glenavon had given him a new lease of life.

"I loved it last year and I'd like to thank Gary Hamilton for giving me a chance. I thought about retiring a few times," said Clingan who got married in the summer.

"I'm not sure I will score as many goals but hopefully I can keep contributing to the team.

"There's a good blend of youth and experience there and we have a strong squad. Gary is a manager who will give young players a chance and Bobby Burns, who moved to Hearts, showed what can be achieved. Gavin Whyte has got his move in the summer too and this league has got many more very talented young players."

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