Belfast Telegraph

Young Glenavon players can become pro stars, says Hall ahead of Mid-Ulster Cup final

By Graham Luney

Andy Hall has hailed Glenavon's impressive production line ahead of tonight's Mid-Ulster Cup final against Newry City AFC.

Manager Gary Hamilton is expected to shuffle his pack and give most of his big guns a rest ahead of Saturday's tough Premiership trip to title-chasing Coleraine.

The Lurgan Blues overcame big rivals Portadown in the last four to set up this trip to the Newry Showgrounds, and they will need to produce another strong performance to conquer the Championship side, who restricted Linfield to one goal in their Tennent's Irish Cup match-up at Windsor Park last Saturday.

Assistant boss Kris Lindsay could feature for the visitors while Northern Ireland Under-16 goalkeeper Conner Byrne made his Glenavon debut in the semi-final aged just 14 years and 245 days.

But younger players can display a maturity beyond their years and at Mourneview Park there is a strong commitment to nurturing young talent.

Midfielder Robbie Norton (19), winger Jack O'Mahony (18) and striker Stephen McCavitt (20) also featured against the Ports, and they only have to look at the progress of players such as Mark Sykes and Bobby Burns to derive inspiration.

Former Bangor winger Hall is excited by the promising talent in Lurgan.

He said: "I think Mark (Sykes) can make it in the full-time game.

"It comes back to giving players a chance. There are clubs interested in him and he's performing very well. Prior to this season there was a bit of inconsistency in his game but he is now hitting the levels you need to hit to get a move. Some of his touches and skills in training are unbelievable.

"Mark and other young players could potentially carve out a full-time career. Bobby Burns is probably one of the best 18-year-olds I have seen football-wise. I have seen him push experienced centre-backs off the ball this season even though they are twice the height of him. With his desire and work rate he could make it as a professional.

"Glenavon give young players a chance to progress their careers and it's great to see. If the young boys keep working hard the future is bright for all of them. A cup win will give them added confidence too."

Belfast Telegraph

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