Declan O’Brien becomes an instant hit with Showgrounds treble

Declan O'Brien (right) celebrates with player/manager Gary Hamilton
Declan O'Brien (right) celebrates with player/manager Gary Hamilton

Glenavon look to have struck gold once again with their latest cross-border transfer swoop.

The Lurgan club’s recent history has been laced with players who have successfully made the transition from the League of Ireland and Declan O’Brien has already made himself the darling of the Mourneview faithful with a hat-trick on his debut at Ballymena Showgrounds.

“It couldn’t have gone better, really,” smiled the 35-year-old former Drogheda United hitman.

“Tony Grant is a very good friend of mine and it was him who recommended me to the club so I’m sure he’s delighted I started with a hat-trick.

“I ended up with the match ball and it was a good, solid team performance all over the park.

“I was only happy to get on the end of a couple of chances so I can’t ask for any more.”

O’Brien’s treble came after Ciaran Martyn had opened the scoring for the Lurgan Blues and although Darren Boyce and the returning Gary McCutcheon were on target for United, it was the league’s most porous defence being breached on another four occasions which is a major source of concern for Ballymena boss Glenn Ferguson.

“It’s no secret that I’ve been on the lookout for a centre-half but when we’re working within the club’s restrictions, we can’t just go out and sign players and not worry about the consequences,” said Ferguson, who was also critical of the performance of referee Stephen Wallace and his assistants, particularly with regard to the award of a free kick which led to Glenavon’s second goal at a crucial stage of the game.