DCSIMG

Gary Hamilton keeping Glenavon grounded despite swell of expectation

Gary Hamilton with the Irish Cup last season

Gary Hamilton with the Irish Cup last season

Irish Cup winners Glenavon might be many pundits’ dark horses for the season, but Gary Hamilton is just looking for more of the same from his side.

Irish Cup winners Glenavon might be many pundits’ dark horses for the season, but Gary Hamilton is just looking for more of the same from his side.

A second top-six placing in a row is the manager’s priority for now, with a run in the cup competitions hoped for to provide a distraction.

Thelofty predictions might be well placed, given the quality of the signings the Lurgan Blues have made.

Kevin Braniff and Alan Blayney are joined by Eoin Bradley from Coleraine and defender Conor Dillon, another signing uncovered by club hero Tony Grant. “It’s going to be an exciting season,” said Hamilton.

“Everyone has strengthened and it looks like it’s going to be one of the most competitive leagues in years.

“Staying in the top six is our first aim. We are building as part of a plan to reach the European places and we still have two years of that plan to go.

“In fact we won the Irish Cup last season a year ahead of ourselves.

“With the players we have brought in you never know where we could end up, but at the same time, and with no disrespect to them, we could end up like Coleraine who had a great season two years ago and last season ended up towards the bottom end of the table.” Hamilton believes the increased competition for places has made the players staying at the club hungry to retain their places.

“Alan Blayney is a quality goalkeeper but James McGrath has improved - his reading of the game has come on so much in the time he has been with us,” said Hamilton.

“Guy Bates has worked hard in pre-season once again because there’s competition for his place with Kevin Braniff coming in.

“Everyone knows what Kevin is capable of and if we can get seven good games out of every 10 from him we know that we will improve our position.”

Conceding goals was Hamilton’s big concern last season, but he believes he’s found the answer in Dillon.

“We have to thank Tony Grant once again for finding us a real gem. We hope Conor can help us improve what was a major issue for over the course of the year.

“Last season we shipped too many goals, so we need to tighten up at the back. We know we can score goals so the defence will be key for us.”

 

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