Gary Hamilton urges players to ‘rise to the occasion’ in Marie Curie Irish Cup final

Gary Hamilton (left) clashes with Ballymena's Tony Kane back in March
Gary Hamilton (left) clashes with Ballymena's Tony Kane back in March

Glenavon boss Gary Hamilton has urged his players to “rise to the occasion” when they step out at Windsor Park on Saturday afternoon.

The Lurgan Blues are preparing for a massive Marie Curie Irish Cup final showdown with Ballymena United (2.30pm kick-off).

It is the biggest fixture in both clubs’ recent history.

Glenavon’s last Irish Cup win was back in 1997, while Ballymena’s last success dates back to 1989 – 25 years ago.

History beckons for one team, and Hamilton hopes his players can answer the call.

“Sometimes players can rise to the challenge in big games, especially if it is on television. It can bring out the best in them,” he said.

“It will be whoever deals with the occasion on the day, unless there is a bad refereeing decision that costs you the game.

“If players can’t get up for this game, then there is something wrong with them.

“I expect my players to give their all, especially on Saturday.”

Hamilton added: “The two teams haven’t been in a cup final for so long, so it is a massive game for both clubs.

“Ballymena are the same as us. The only difference is they have won the County Antrim Shield final.

“They beat Linfield to lift that, so they have some experience of playing in a final against a big team.

“But this is the Irish Cup – this is different.”