Glenavon’s Jonny Tuffey up for Irish Cup semi-final clash with Crusaders

Glenavon's Jonathan Tuffey

Glenavon's Jonathan Tuffey

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Goalkeeper Jonny Tuffey insists Glenavon are ready to translate whispers of promise into tangible reward as they approach the business end of the season.

The Lurgan Blues have continued progressing on an upward curve over the past eight months.

They currently sit third in the Danske Bank Premiership and are preparing for a crunch Tennent’s Irish Cup semi-final clash with Crusaders at Windsor Park on Friday night (7.45pm).

Tuffey joined Glenavon in May last year following two years at Linfield.

It has proved a shrewd piece of business from Gary Hamilton, who has patiently moulded a squad capable of consistently competing at the top end of the Irish League.

And Tuffey hopes the club can take another significant step towards realising that potential by reaching their second Irish Cup final in two years.

“I am loving it here. I have been handed a chance at Glenavon and I am thankful for Gary (Hamilton) and the club for putting their faith in me,” Tuffey said.

“Things are definitely looking up at Glenavon. Gary is building a strong squad that is competing in the league and cup competitions, and there is a good blend of youth and experience.

“Gary is also able to attract the right type of player to the club and continue adding quality.

“We are at the business end of the season and we are still in there fighting for Europe and for silverware.

“It is great to be involved in a club that is competing right to the end of the season. There is character in this squad.

“To reach an Irish Cup final would be unbelievable. It would be right up there in my career highlights.

“But we have to be respectful to Crusaders. They are a quality team and will be fired up for Friday night’s game.

“We have to be ready – and we will.”

Glenavon go into tonight’s cup clash in a rich vein of form – they have lost just once in their last 13 Premiership fixtures.

Their head-to-head record with the Crues isn’t as flattering, however, with just one win from their past 13 league meetings.

But for Tuffey, past form will count for nothing when the two teams renew rivalries at Windsor tonight.

“Friday is a one-off cup match – anything can happen,” he added.

“We are on a decent run at present, and the Crues picked up a good win in midweek which will have buoyed them.

“It is an old cliche but Friday will boil down to whoever performs on the night.

“The game could end up being 100mph, or it could be a more sedate pace.

“We just have to be ready for whatever Crusaders throw at us, and believe in ourselves. We have a good squad of players here who can beat anyone on our day. Hopefully Friday is our day.”

One player who won’t be involved tonight is Glenavon defender Kris Lindsay.

Last week’s dismissal against Coleraine in the Premiership means the experienced defender is suspended.

“I am devastated for Kris. We are good mates and he is gutted to miss this Irish Cup semi-final,” Tuffey added.

“But he will handle it the right way and he will support the lads on Friday night and he will still have a positive impact.

“Kris is an integral part of this squad and he has so much experience when it comes to the Irish League, and also the Irish Cup.

“But I am confident in whoever comes in doing a job and helping us get the result we need.”