Jack O’Mahony and Paddy Burns have both signed extended contracts for Glenavon. Jack has signed a three year deal and Paddy has agreed a two year deal. “We’re delighted with the deals,” said Gary Hamilton as he exclusively revealed the news to the website after today’s pre-season game with Glebe North. “The two boys went out on loan last year; Jack did a full season at the Welders and Paddy went out to Knockbreda for four months from Christmas and the two boys have really impressed everybody about the club in pre-season. They’re another product of the youth academy here and they’ve come through the system and they’re now in the first team squad. That’s what we want about the club, good young honest lads like that and hopefully they’ll get their chance at some stage this season and take it.”

Unfortunately Robbie Norton suffered an anterior cruciate ligament tear in Wednesday night’s friendly with Banbridge Town and will require surgery which the club is arranging to be done as soon as possible. “We’re gutted for Robbie,” Gary told us. “He’s another example of a lad that has come through the system but it looks like he may not play a part this season. It’s unfortunate for the young kid but the one thing we’ve got here is a great physio department in terms of Doctor Best and Lynne Carpenter.

“Lynne is as good a physio as I’ve worked with and if anyone can bring him back stronger it’s Lynne. She’s brought back players in their thirties from cruciate injuries including Kyle Neill and Kris Lindsay and the job she’s done has been excellent and I’ve no doubt that she’ll get Robbie back even stronger again.”

Niall Grace has been released at his own request and looks likely to return to Institute. “I spoke with Niall over the summer and asked him back but he’d had a horrible injury while on loan at Cliftonville. He was off work and was getting a wee bit down over it and he was actually thinking about jacking football in. We had a conversation and he said to me ‘Gary is it ok if I get my release and think things over’. He’s obviously looking at moving back to Derry to work and maybe if something would come up at Institute he might take up that opportunity. As far as I’m aware he has signed for Institute and I want to wish Niall all the best, he’s a great lad. When he first came here he was flying but unfortunately he got injured and at the time Mark Sykes and Ben Doherty we’re playing in there and we went on an incredible run and Niall was getting frustrated that he wasn’t getting football.  Niall was a good person and we helped him by facilitating the release of his contract and we wish him all the best in the future.”

Meanwhile Tommy Cooney will not after all be joining Glenavon. “Tommy had an agreement with us that, if a full-time club came in for him, we would let him move on and we wouldn’t stand in his way. We knew it was a gamble at the time but we made him the offer but about ten days later he got an offer to go to a club in Sweden and he goes with our blessing because that’s the way the deal was agreed in the first instance. He wanted to get back into full-time football and we were hoping he would help us and we could provide that opportunity at the end of the season perhaps but it happened quicker than we thought.”

Supporters are obviously keen for news on the Rhys Marshall situation so we asked Gary where things stand at the moment. “Listen, we’ve spoken to Rhys, we’ve asked him to sit down and talk to us and discuss a potential new contract but he’s told us that at this minute in time he’s not in any rush to do anything so our hands are tied. All we can do is offer him the contract. We want him to stay here; everybody wants him to stay at the football club – he knows that.

“It’s a situation that happens in football. He’s in the last year of his contract and the ball always lies in the player’s court – they’re the ones with the power. Everybody at this football club would love to keep Rhys, no more than the Chairman and the Board and myself and the backroom staff and the players.

“It’s a big decision for him at this stage in his career but it’s his decision and nobody can force him either way. We’re hoping that at some stage he will sit down and discuss a new contract and we pray that he signs it but the ball’s in his court and we have to wait and see what he does.”