Goals either side of the half-time whistle by Kevin Braniff and Andy Hall saw Glenavon lift the Irish Cup for the second time in three years, in front of a massive 11,500 crowd at the newly refurbished National Football Stadium at Windsor Park with over 5000 jubilant Glenavon fans cheering their side on from start to finish.
Click the picture below to watch Gary Ellis’s post-match video as he captures the reactions of Gary Hamilton and the players.Although Linfield started well and put Glenavon on the back foot for the first 10 or 15 minutes, Andy Waterworth having an effort cleared by Simon Kelly and ex-Linfield keeper Johnny Tuffey making a superb reaction save to block Stephen Lowry’s close range flick with his boot, after that it was all Glenavon.
Joel Cooper was giving Sean Ward, Linfield’s right back, all sorts of problems with his direct running and the young winger curled an effort from the left corner of the box narrowly wide of the far post in the 15th minute.
Eoin Bradley had the ball in the net two minutes later when Linfield keeper Gareth Deane could only parry a shot by Conor Dillon but as a scramble for the ball developed on the goal line with Jimmy Callacher and Deane both prostrate and Ciaran Martyn and Bradley trying to dig the ball out, the striker did manage to poke the ball into the net only for Referee Raymond Hetherington to whistle for a foul on the keeper.
In the final minute of the half Linfield won a corner but Hall headed it clear, Lowry misjudged the bounce of the ball and Cooper hooked it on to Mark Patton. His first-time ball forward forced an error from Ward and Hall ran into acres of space onto his weak attempted clearance. He played the ball out to Bradley on the right of the box and the Derry man took a couple of touches before curling over a cross with the outside of his left boot which Braniff met to fire a right foot volley into the roof of the net and send the Glenavon fans into raptures.
There was barely time for the restart before the half time whistle sounded.
No doubt expecting a second-half onslaught from David Healy’s team, in fact it was Glenavon who took the initiative with Hall doubling the lead just three minutes after the restart. Patton took a throw in to Braniff who returned the ball to the left back and he whipped a cross towards the centre of the six yard box. Bradley’s overhead kick deflected off Callacher and the ball fell for Hall who took a touch with his left boot before stroking the ball beyond Deane into the bottom corner.
Linfield’s best effort of the second half was a 30 yard free kick by Aaron Burns which saw Tuffey make a routine tip over.
Braniff could have made it 3-0 in the 83rd minute when he outmuscled Mark Haughey to get on the end of a long ball but his effort rolled inches wide of the post.
In the end it didn’t matter and the Lurgan Blues went up to lift the Irish Cup for the second time in three years.
Glenavon: Tuffey, Marshall, Dillon, Kelly, Patton, Hall, Kilmartin, Martyn (C), Cooper, Braniff, Bradley. Subs: Lindsay, Sykes (Martyn 68), McGrory, Hamilton (Bradley 84), Kearns (Cooper 90)
Linfield: Deane, Haughey, Callacher, Waterworth (C), Lowry, Burns, Ward, Clarke, Mulgrew, Gaynor, Smyth. Subs: Ross Glendinning (GK), Stafford, Millar (Clarke 56), Fallon, Quinn (Callacher 77).
Referee: Raymond Hetherington (Dungannon)