IRISH LEAGUE: Hamilton confident new star will shine as Braniff looks for move

Glenavon manager Gary Hamilton welcomes new signing James Gray (right) to the club. Pic: glenavonfc.com
Glenavon manager Gary Hamilton welcomes new signing James Gray (right) to the club. Pic: glenavonfc.com

Glenavon boss Gary Hamilton is confident his new striker can fire his side into Europe while Kevin Braniff could be set for a move.

The club have confirmed the signing of former Northern Ireland Under 21 international James Gray from English National League side Southport.

Kevin Braniff in action for Glenavon earlier this season. 
Photo by TONY HENDRON/Presseye.com.

Kevin Braniff in action for Glenavon earlier this season. Photo by TONY HENDRON/Presseye.com.

“I’m confident it will be a success but obviously when you come from a different league, it’s difficult,” said Hamilton.

“He’s a target man and he’s a real finisher.
“He’s young and he has plenty of ambition. That’s what we want. It’s a short-term deal to the end of the season and we hope it works for both parties. He wants to get a move back to play in the Football League in England and hopefully he can help us to a European place and with our Irish Cup campaign as well.”

Gray’s dad Phil played for Northern Ireland and it’s through Hamilton’s connections to the family that the forward made the move to Mourneview Park.

“He’s someone that I’ve always liked. I got to know his dad when I was playing in England and he was at Burnley. I’ve kept in touch and had a few nibbles about James. I had another one recently and he said that he wanted a change and to get a run of games. He knows that if he plays well, he will get that but at the same time he will be treated exactly the same as everybody else.”

Meanwhile, Hamilton also confirmed that the club will ‘listen to offers’ for Braniff, who scored a hat-trick in last season’s Irish Cup semi-final.

“Kevin’s 34 in March and he wants to play regularly,” said Hamilton. “I was in that place when I was at Glentoran so I understand he wants to make the most of the years he has left playing football.

“He’s frustrated and asked to move on. We were in the same position last January and we were prepared to do a deal but it didn’t materialise. He came back into the team and scored the goals in the Irish Cup semi-final and final.

“It’s the same situation now, we will listen to offers but if nothing happens, he will remain part of our squad.”

Paddy McCourt left the club last week and Hamilton says that, unless Braniff gets a move, it could be as simple as one out, one in for his side in January.

He said: “We have no more budget at the minute. If Kevin moves on, that might create something but if nothing happens, we will go on with what we’ve got.”