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Why I was always going to celebrate against my old club Glenavon, explains Linfield hero Kearns

Glenavon 0 Linfield 1

By Billy Weir

It was the start Linfield new-boy Daniel Kearns had been dreaming of as his first goal for the Blues earned them a battling 1-0 win over Glenavon at Mourneview Park.

The former West Ham apprentice popped up to poke home the winner on the half-hour mark on Saturday and that coupled with the ever-reliable Roy Carroll gave David Healy's under-strength side an opening day triumph.

They were without eight players, including skipper Jamie Mulgrew and new Northern Ireland international signing Ryan McGivern, and although put under heavy pressure by the home side, held on to the end.

The west Belfast man has been much travelled in his career, with spells in England and in the Republic, but is now looking to make his name and help fire Linfield back to the top

"Three points was the main thing. It's a great start for us because this is a tough place to come," he said. "We knew the second-half was going to be exactly like it was, they put a lot of pressure on us and I'm delighted to get off the mark as well and hopefully we can kick on from here now.

"The performance and the way we defended in the last 20 minutes will stand us in good stead for the rest of the season."

Kearns spent a year with the Lurgan Blues back in the 2014-15 season but thankfully there was no thoughts of not celebrating his winning goal which came after the defence failed to clear Kirk Millar's free-kick and after a skirmish he dived in to score and the delight was there for all to see.

"It was nice to be back because I haven't been up in a while with having played down south but I was delighted to get a goal and I was always going to celebrate regardless," he explained.

"It's nothing against the boys here, you celebrate when you score. I think it's madness (if you don't celebrate). You're on the pitch here to do a job, to score goals and help create chances and that's why the manager brought me here.

"The boys that were here last season know that it wasn't a great season, below where they were expecting to finish and at Linfield you need to be challenging for the league and every cup competition."

Glenavon will feel hard done by on a number of levels, although they have to shoulder some of the blame with wasteful finishing including Andrew Mitchell's sixth minute penalty miss after Chris Casement had handled Stephen Murray's shot.

Casement was mighty fortunate not to be shown a second yellow card soon after when he hauled down Josh Daniels and it was that decision that dominated Gary Hamilton's post-match thoughts.

However, as pleased as he was with some of his side's play, he was annoyed with their finishing but that paled into insignificance with his scathing views on the officials performance.

"It's a big penalty at an important time in the game and the one thing you want is to hit the target but unfortunately he didn't," he explained.

"He's a striker and he grabbed the ball but unfortunately for us it didn't go in. I thought that might have killed us but we were alright for 10 minutes after it and then they got a free-kick from which they scored which was offside and after that we went out of the game until half-time.

"I thought in the second-half we dominated. Jonny (Tuffey) didn't have to make a save in 90 minutes of football so it shows you who the better team was.

"We have to be more clinical but you look for better decision-making from officials because it totally changes. In big games like this you can't afford those decisions to go against you. A player coming off the pitch changes the whole dynamic of the game.

"I know for sure we have been at the wrong end of decision after decision and it's year-in, year-out and I hoped on the first day of the season it was going to be different but unfortunately it wasn't to be."

GLENAVON: Tuffey, Muir, Singleton, Marron, Doyle, Grace (Norton, 71 mins), Daniels, Sykes, Mitchell (Jenkins, 76 mins), Murray, Hall (Donnelly, 66 mins). Unused subs: King, Harmon, Taylor, O'Mahony.

LINFIELD: Carroll, Casement, Clarke, Robinson, Callacher, Quinn, Mitchell, Cooper (Stewart, 80 mins), Waterworth (O'Connor, 71 mins), Kearns, Millar. Unused subs: Deane, Moller Nielsen, Fallon, Smith, McGuinness.

Referee: Ian McNabb (Newtownabbey)

Man of the match: Caolan Marron

Match rating: 6/10

Belfast Telegraph

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