Glenavon manager Gary Hamilton hails Kevin Braniff arrival as ‘massive coup’

Kevin Braniff pictured in the blue shirt of Glenavon after his unveiling at Mourneview Park last night
Kevin Braniff pictured in the blue shirt of Glenavon after his unveiling at Mourneview Park last night

Gary Hamilton believes Glenavon have issued a “statement of intent” with the signing of Kevin Braniff.

Braniff has signed a two-year deal with the Lurgan Blues after returning home from Australia.

The versatile striker enjoyed a brief spell with the Port Melbourne Sharks after being released by Portadown in January following what the Shamrock Park club claimed was a breach of discipline.

The 31-year-old – who was believed to be on the radar of Linfield and Cliftonville – is now ready for a fresh challenge with Glenavon after being unveiled at Mourneview Park on Thursday night.

“It is a massive coup for Glenavon,” declared Hamilton last night.

“When Kevin returned home from Australia, we made contact with him more out of hope than expectation.

“But one thing led to another we managed to sort out a deal to bring him to Glenavon. It is a massive signing for the club and we are delighted.

“It wouldn’t have been that long ago that a player of Kevin’s calibre wouldn’t have thought about joining a club like Glenavon.

“But it shows you the direction we are heading when he wants to revive his Irish League career with us.

“I believe that outside of Glenn Ferguson, Kevin has been the best player in Irish League football over the past 10 years.

“There were a lot of clubs interested in signing him, so for Glenavon to get his signature is fantastic news for the club, and it shows you the ambition we have.”

Glenavon finished in the top six last season before going onto lift the Irish Cup for the first time in 17 years.

Hamilton admits the Lurgan club may have punched above their weight last term, but says the challenge will now be keeping Glenavon at the top end of the Danske Bank Premiership.

“We were maybe ahead of schedule last season,” he added.

“Cups are lotteries and anyone can win them on their day, but the league standings reflect a long campaign.

“We managed to finish sixth which was great, but now we have to stay there and improve if possible.

“We have signed Alan Blayney, Eoin Bradley and now Kevin Braniff, and expectation levels will be rising.

“But that’s what you want. We can’t sit still. We have to look forward and always try to improve, and I think the signings we have made so far will make us a stronger team.”

Braniff – who spent eight years at Portadown – returned to Northern Ireland for personal reasons following a spell Down Under.

“I am fit and can’t wait to get started,” he said.

“I am joining a progressive club, one that did superbly well last season by finishing sixth and winning the Irish Cup.

“The focus is now on moving forward and trying to do better, and I can’t wait to play a part. It is an exciting time for the club, especially with the European games coming up.

“I enjoyed my time in Australia but had to come home for personal reasons and now I am looking forward to the next two years here.”

Braniff joined in with his new teammates last night as they continued preparations for the Europa League.

“The great thing is that Kevin is fit and ready,” Hamilton said.

“He was playing in Australia for the past couple of months so he hasn’t been idle.

“That is a bonus.”