COMMENT: Gary Hamilton deserves praise for reviving Glenavon’s fortunes

Gary Hamilton with sons Corey and Calum
Gary Hamilton with sons Corey and Calum

With a can of beer in his hand, and young sons Calum and Corey sitting by his side, Gary Hamilton massaged his beard before reflecting on Glenavon’s latest stellar moment of glory.

Saturday’s 2-0 win over Linfield saw the Lurgan Blues clinch their second Irish Cup in three years.

It saw Hamilton become only the second Glenavon manager in history to win multiple Irish Cups – following in the footsteps of Jimmy McAlinden.

It has been a mesmerising journey for Hamilton who took up the reins at Mourneview Park in December 2011.

When Glenavon picked the 35-year-old as their manager, there were a few raised eyebrows at the appointment of the rookie boss.

Glenavon had received 19 applications for the post after Marty Quinn had stepped down.

But as far as the club’s board of directors were concerned, there was only one man for the job.

“He was the unanimous choice of the Board of Directors who were impressed by his experience within Irish League football, his football acumen and contacts within the game and his in-depth knowledge of Glenavon FC from academy to senior level as would befit someone who has supported the club since boyhood,” said club chairman Adrian Teer at the time.

“Also, his vision for the future of Glenavon Football Club and his positive ideas for regenerating the playing side of the club at all levels from Academy upwards and his determination, enthusiasm and burning desire to become the manager of this football club.”

Hamilton admitted his primary aim was to get Glenavon back into the top six of the Premiership and “start contesting cup semi-finals and finals”.

He has been true to his word, winning two Irish Cups and moulding a squad that can compete at the top end of the Premiership.

How far can they go? That remains to be seen.

Hamilton is understandably cautious when forecasting Glenavon’s future.

But following Saturday’s latest moment of wonder for the Lurgan Blues, the outlook would appear encouraging as the club plots its course.