IRISH LEAGUE: Declan O’Brien hat-trick steers Glenavon to win over Ballinamallard United

Hat Trick Hero, Glenavon's Declan O'Brien celebrates with the ball' after the win over Ballinamallard
Hat Trick Hero, Glenavon's Declan O'Brien celebrates with the ball' after the win over Ballinamallard

GLENAVON 5 BALLINAMALLARD UNITED 1

Declan O’Brien answered Glenavon’s striker worries with a fantastic hat-trick to sink Ballinamallard United.

The hosts, who were missing Eoin Bradley as he was stuck in Sharm El Sheik and Kevin Braniff through injury, took the lead inside the first 10 minutes through Daniel Kearns. The forward scored on his home debut when Rhys Marshall broke into box and supplied a low cross for the former Carlisle winger to control and tap in.

But the Mallards pulled level in controversial circumstances, referee Ian McNabb awarding a penalty for a hand ball against Simon Kelly which was hotly contested by the hosts. James McCartney fired the spot kick into the top right corner.

Glenavon could have restored their lead shortly afterwards. Joel Cooper, who was proving to be a real live wire for the Lurgan Blues, shrugged off a challenge to cross for Kearns but he skewed his shot wide of the target.

That second goal came on 25 minutes when Andy Hall’s cross met the outstretched foot of Declan O’Brien who made no mistake from close range.

And they could have had a penalty of their own from the penalty spot two minutes later when Cooper was brought down by Gary Phair. O’Brien took the penalty but Alvin Rouse guessed correctly, tipping the spot kick over the bar.

O’Brien extended Glenavon’s lead by heading in a Hall corner on 48 minutes, and the two combined as the striker completed his hat-trick a minute later winger’s cross was turned in by the man of the moment after great work by Kearns down the right flank.

Ballinamallard offered very little in terms of chances in the second half. Their best opportunity was a half chance for Jonny Lafferty who fired over from the edge of the box.

Glenavon, however, did not settle with four goals and could have added a fifth when they found themselves in a four-on-two situation. Mark Sykes led the charge, passing to Hall who found Kearns, only for Rouse to parry the shot.

A bad day at the office got worse for the visitors when Rouse was sent off five minutes from time. A deflected Gary Hamilton shot hung in the air and as the goalkeeper went to collect the ball, he stuck a foot out and caught substitute Andy McGrory in the midrift. Leon Carters went in goal, but he was unable to stop Hamilton adding a fifth goal from the resulting penalty.

Glenavon: Tuffey, Neill, Kelly, Lindsay, Kilmartin, Marshall, Cooper, Hall, Sykes, O’Brien, Kearns. Subs: McKeown, Patton, McGrory (Kearns 82), Buckley (Kilmartin 73), Hamilton (O’Brien 72).

Ballinamallard United: Rouse, Phair, Friars, McLoughlin, Feeney, McCrudden, Campbell, Leckey, Martin, McCartney, Lafferty. Subs: McCusker, Courtney (Feeney 70), Crilly (McCrudden 62), Currie, Carters (Friars 81).

Referee: Ian McNabb (Carrickfergus)