Glenavon exorcised the ghosts of last year’s Irish Cup as they put exacted revenge on Harland and Wolff Welders at a soggy Tillysburn Park.
Last year Glenavon, at the time cup holders, exited the competition at the East Belfast venue at the sixth round stage of the competition, but they had no such problems this time around and earned themselves a game against either Glentoran or Ards in February.
The visitors’ assistant manager, Paul Millar, said that last year’s 2-0 loss had remained in the minds of the players.
He said, “Before the game we spoke to the players and of the teams who had beaten us in cup games, like the Welders, Ards and Annagh United, and those we have beaten over the last few seasons, like Linfield, Glentoran, and Cliftonville home and away.
“It was a big game mentally for us, but I thought we were really professional.
“Once we knew the game was definitely on we got the boys focused. Gary (Hamilton) had a good yarn with them, made sure they were ready to go out and it showed from the
“The pitch was awful. We won 4-1 but I still don’t think we should have been playing on it, not because it might have spoils the game, but because of the health and safety of the players.”
The visitors took the lead on 20 minutes after Eoin Bradley was fouled on the edge of the Welders box. The impressive Andy Hall took the resulting free kick, dispatching the ball around the wall and into the top corner of the net.
Bradley added Glenavon’s second on 63 minutes when a Hall free kick was knocked back into the box by Kearns, and with the goalkeeper scambling, all the big striker had to do was outjump a defender and knock the ball into the net.
But the Welders were quickly back into the game three minutes later, when a quickly taken free kick found Scott Davidson, and he buried his shot to punish a snoozing Glenavon defence.
Glenavon made sure their name was in the hat when another Hall corner was converted by Bradley’s head.
And in stoppage time Joel Cooper added a fourth when the tricky winger dribbled through the Welders defence and finish cooly past Dougherty.
Welders boss, Gary Smyth, had named himself on the bench but almost missed the game as his flight from Liverpool was delayed, causing him to arrive just five minutes before kick-off!
After the game he said: “We were in the game until they scored their third and then you could see our heads drop, and even then Sammy Devine broke through only to blast over the bar. That might have made it an interesting last few minutes.”
“But considering the conditions and the pitch, I was really happy with the way we played.”
The Welders were without a number of players for the game, which led to Smyth including himself on the bench.
He added: “Michael McLellan was a big miss. He has scored 26-27 goals this season. We had no Craig Harris, Ryan Deans and Neil Dougan was suspended.
“People will read about the game and see it was 4-1. It was never a 4-1 game and I’d like to think Gary and Windy would say the same.”