IRISH CUP: Gary Hamilton urges Glenavon to ‘turn on the style’ at Windsor Park

Glenavon boss Gary Hamilton (centre)
Glenavon boss Gary Hamilton (centre)

Having already booked their European ticket for next season, Glenavon boss Gary Hamilton reckons his boys will have the licence to thrill in Saturday’s Tennent’s Irish Cup final against Linfield at Windsor Park.

The Lurgan Blues will be urged on by a huge following in the game’s most glamorous day of the year – and Hamilton wants to send his army of fans home happy.

He agrees with the suggestion that both teams can enjoy the occasion as they have already secured their European berths.

“Yes, the pressure is off to a certain extent,” said Hamilton, who led the Lurgan boys to Irish Cup success two years ago.

“We had Europe secured for the final week of the league campaign, so we rested a lot of the boys last week.

“The last thing we wanted is to go into an Irish Cup final, knowing we had to win it to get to Europe. It would have been an added pressure to the players.

“It means they can go out and express themselves and enjoy it. Hopefully, that will get the best out of them.”

Hamilton intends to stick with tradition in the build-up for the game and retrace the same routine used two year’s ago when they defeated Ballymena.

He adds: “It will be the same routine – same suit maker, same meal. It worked before, so we’ll stick with it. There is a feel-good factor about the club.

"We’ve improved a lot over the past three or four years – we’ve qualified for European and also won the cup. There are more supporters now coming out to see us – there is a good atmosphere about the place.

“We’ve added to the history of the club by winning the cup and it would be great to do it again. It would be an honour to be part of a small group that has won it twice.

“In saying that, I think Linfield approach the game in better form than us. We went through a wee spell when we drew a game and lost a couple. It was very unlike us because we hadn’t lost two in a row all season. But the fact that we did enough to book our passage to Europe means a lot.

“The lads have had a chance to recharge their batteries. They have had a lot of tough games in such a short period of time. They were big games, with a lot at stake, so they had a chance to chill out this week.”

Hamilton is relishing the prospect of walking out on to the lush Windsor Park surface beside his his long-time friend and former international colleague, Blues boss David Healy.

“He was someone I always looked up to in our young days,” added Gary. “David was the one you aimed to be better than.

“I’m delighted he went on to do what he did for Northern Ireland. He’s a good lad and is someone I’ve kept in contact with throughout our years.

“I was lucky enough to be included in the international squad at the time he was scoring all the goals. For what he achieved, he never got above his station. He’s a genuinely decent guy. David always wanted the best for himself – and now Linfield are getting that out of him. It’s the first time in four or five years that Linfield are a force to be reckoned with.”