What must surely be the most exciting finish to an Irish League season in many years reaches a climax tomorrow with Coleraine’s visit to Mourneview Park, Crusaders travelling to Ballymena and Linfield hosting Cliftonville with all three games having massive implications for the sides involved. Not to mention the relegation/play-off places at the foot of the table.

Glenavon know that they must match Linfield’s result in order to secure a third-place finish but Oran Kearney’s Bannsiders will need to go all-out for a win and hope that the Crues drop points if they are to overhaul the Seaview side and claim the league title.

Coleraine has lost just one league game all season and is the only side that Glenavon has not registered a win against, so far, this season, losing the first game at the Showgrounds 4-2 and drawing the other two games: 2-2 at Mourneview and 1-1 in the other away game.

Mark Sykes scores an equaliser in the 2-2 draw. Photo by Maynard Collins

“Tomorrow’s a massive game for both clubs with Coleraine potentially able to win the league tomorrow if Crusaders slip up but also for ourselves to finish third,” Gary Hamilton told us. “That would be an unbelievable achievement for us this season. We finished 6th last year so to get up three places in the league, improve our points, which we’ve already done, and improve on our goals for and against, or even finishing 4th would be a massive improvement, but we want to try and finish third when we’ve been there for quite a while. The boys have done excellent this season; they’ve been up around the top 3 or 4 places all season and it’s been a great credit to them. There’s one more game to go and with Linfield playing Cliftonville who are in the Irish Cup Final next week, unless Linfield have a nightmare in front of goal, it’s going probably to be a win for the Blues. We have to prepare for that and try to look after ourselves and go and try to be only the second team to beat Coleraine this season in the league. If we do it, it would be a great achievement.

“I tell the players every week that they are more than capable of beating every team that they play. They’re a very good side themselves and, on their day, they’re more than a match for anybody if they play to their capabilities. They have to have belief and confidence in themselves that they can do it.”

“We need a loud atmosphere”

“We know it will be a difficult game but the one thing we need tomorrow is the crowd. We know that Coleraine’s going to have a hell of a crowd down tomorrow and they’ll be in full voice and they’ll try to drive their team on to try to win the Gibson Cup.

“For us we need to try and finish third this season and to give us another potential way of qualifying for Europe if Coleraine were to win the Cup. We need our fans tomorrow. We needed them last week and, to be honest, I didn’t think we got them and the atmosphere was really poor last week. Fans might say ‘well there’s nothing to cheer’ but sometimes if you cheer and get behind the lads early doors and continually support them then it gives them that wee gee to score a goal. The only time I could see the lads really lifted last week was whenever it was two-each at Windsor and there was a bit of a buzz went around the ground, knowing that if we’d scored it would have put us three points clear but that was too late for me and although the lads lifted their performance in the last ten minutes we couldn’t get that goal.

“Maybe if we’d had that over the whole match we would have got a win. The fans are so important in football and, at the end of the day, it’s not just for the players, it’s for everybody at the club – it’s for the supporters, it’s for the board¬† of Directors and we all have to play our part. It’s the Club, we want to get to Europe again, we want to finish third in the league for the third time in four or five years. It’s about achieving things and we want to achieve them together as a club and the fans can play their part on the sidelines cheering us on and supporting us and the players on the pitch.

“When they’re young and inexperienced, that’s when they need that support more than ever. It’s no surprise when you look at our home record this year and when I look back and watch all the tapes of the games and listened to the atmosphere at them, in the home games there hasn’t been the same buzz as in the away games. The away crowd has really, really encouraged the players and got behind them and sung songs and chanted their names and you can see the away record is tremendous.

“Players don’t need a silent stadium, they don’t need criticism, they need support and encouragement and a loud atmosphere and when they get that they usually bounce off it and react off it and hopefully we can get that tomorrow.”

Reminder: This match is all-ticket; the last chance to purchase a ticket is from the Office on Saturday morning between 9:30am and 11:30am. There will be no cash turnstiles operational tomorrow, nor will tickets be on sale at the ground immediately prior to the game.

Form Guide

Last Five League Results

Glenavon: L L D W D

Coleraine: W D W W D

Last 10 Head to Head (all competitions)

Glenavon: W3 D4 L3 F15 A14

Matchday Sponsors

The Match Sponsors are Tritex Cores and 4 Triangle Members, the Ball Sponsor is ‘The Lurgan Bannsiders’ and Eddy Kerr is the Glenavon Man of the Match Sponsor.

Match Officials

  • Referee: Ian McNabb
  • Assistants: Stephen Bell and Mark O’Brien
  • 4th Official: Ray Hetherington