Belfast Telegraph

I'd prefer a trophy over Glentoran appearance record, insist Morris

Glenavon 1 Glentoran 1

Taking charge: Elliott Morris ensures there’s no way past for Glenavon’s Jordan Jenkins
Taking charge: Elliott Morris ensures there’s no way past for Glenavon’s Jordan Jenkins
Caolan Marron and Sam Byrne

By Billy Weir

It was a tale of two players at the opposite ends of the age spectrum in footballing terms at Mourneview Park.

One a young man with the world at his very talented feet and a slightly older one safely pouching his 700th appearance.

The men in question were Glenavon defender Caolan Marron and Glentoran goalkeeper Elliott Morris, the latter the main man given his incredible achievement and the other turning in a man of the match display.

Morris probably hasn't had many quieter opening 45 minutes with the home team rarely threatening and when Andrew Mitchell did get a shot on target it lacked the power to beat the keeper.

Defences were well on top, Glenavon's youthful pairing of Marron and Dylan King an insurmountable hurdle for the visitors, while at the other end Calum Birney and Willie Garrett were equally belligerent.

The deadlock was finally broken on the hour mark when Jonny Tuffey failed to cut out Ross Redman's corner and Robbie McDaid (right) rose unchallenged to nod the ball home.

The home side got back on level terms in the 70th minute when Garrett needlessly pushed Mitchell in the back who tumbled over the out-rushing Morris and referee Keith Kennedy pointed to the spot.

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There was a lengthy delay as Morris received treatment to face off with substitute Stephen Murray from 12 yards but the striker held his nerve to drill the ball home low and hard.

It put a slight dampener on the day for Morris who admitted that the build-up had been difficult with all the focus on that amazing statistic.

"My phone never stopped all day and it was a bit of a distraction," he said. "Coming in I had about 100 texts and messages on Facebook but it was people wishing me 'good luck' so I can't complain, can I?"

He also received a rousing reception from both teams and both sets of fans and now he had Colin Nixon's all-time mark of 794 appearances in his sights.

"It was nice, I got a bit of stick before the penalty obviously because I was playing games slightly but they scored anyway!", he said.

"If you'd asked me three years ago (if he'd reach 700) I'd have said 'right, I'm away' but it's a great achievement and I'm really proud and honoured to have played for Glentoran first and foremost and to play that length of time.

"A few people have asked my about the record and stuff over the last couple of weeks but I'd take a trophy before I take the record, I really want to lift another trophy with the club. To get my hands on another trophy would be special."

Gary Hamilton was pleased to see his side, driven on by Marron, getting back on terms and looked the more likely of the two teams to go on an win it, but his main task may be keeping hold of the 20-year-old.

"People keep thinking I talk about my own players but I think that anybody who watches Caolan Marron will think that he has a real chance of making it across the water," he enthused.

"He cruises through games. After we played Molde the big lad Haaland that they were all talking about, he never game him a kick in the first leg.

"I can't sing his praises high enough. The one thing I will say if he keeps his feet on the ground, keeps working hard and doesn't get above himself, which sometimes young kids can, then he has got real potential of playing across the water.

"There are very few centre-halves who are strong in the air, can run, keep the ball. He has got everything, he maybe lacks a wee bit of height but he more than makes up with his strength and timing of his jumps."

GLENAVON: Tuffey, Marshall, Singleton, Marron, King, Harmon (Doherty, 61 mins), Daniels, Sykes, Mitchell (Jenkins, 74 mins), Donnelly (Murray, 46 mins), Hall. Unused subs: Hamilton, Taylor, Larmour, Muir.

GLENTORAN: Morris, Gordon, Redman, Kane, Garrett, Birney, Crowe, Gordon, Herron (Davidson, 61 mins), Allen (Byrne, 83 mins), McGuigan (McMahon, 90 mins), McDaid. Unused subs: Nelson, Kerr, Ferris, McCarthy.

Referee: Keith Kennedy (Lisburn)

Man of the match: Caolan Marron

Match rating: 7/10

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