Revitalised Gareth McKeown hails Gary Hamilton effect

Glenavon's Gareth McKeown
Glenavon's Gareth McKeown

Defender Gareth McKeown declared Glenavon boss Gary Hamilton has helped re-ignite his soccer ambitions.

The big 32-year-old became disillusioned when shown the door at Crusaders last season, but he is now ready to reap a little bit of revenge against his former employers at Windsor Park on Saturday.

Hamilton swooped to bring the Belfast man to Mourneview Park, along with the seasoned David Rainey and Winkie Murphy and he hasn’t looked back.

McKeown is just hoping to be included in the squad for what is now one of Lurgan club’s biggest games for years.

“To be honest, I thought about packing it all in when I left Crusaders,” said McKeown. “I became disillusioned. I was losing a bit of interest in the game; I was disheartened at having to leave Crusaders, through no fault of my own.

“It was one of those things. Gary gave me a call and I’m playing again with a smile on my face again. It’s games like this you want to be involved in: it gives us a great chance of taking the club to their first final in years.”

Shrewd Hamilton raised more than a few eyebrows when he swooped for McKeown, his Crusaders team-mate Davy Rainey and veteran Linfield defender Winkie Murphy over the summer.

“A lot of people questioned Gary’s decision,” added McKeown. “But he’s got the best out of all of us.

“When the young lads see us thriving and enjoying it, it helps bring them on. Personally, I’ve got my hunger back. The only problem is no one is sure of their place in the team. Everyone is playing for the shirt.

“It’s making Gary’s job a lot more difficult. He revamped the team for the Glentoran league game last week and their won 4-0 at the Oval, so he could well face a selection headache for the semi final,” said McKeown.

“The team has come on leaps and bounds this season and this semi final a bit of a fairy tale for Davy Rainey and I playing against our old club.

“Hopefully, our fans will come out and give us their backing. They were outstanding in the quarter final win over Glentoran; they really helped us through the game.”