It’s finally here. The clash that Glenavon fans have been waiting for, for 5 long years. It’s the Boxing Day derby vs Portadown.
Last year’s Boxing Day derby fell victim to a set of restrictions imposed by the NI Executive due to COVID and was rescheduled to a later date. But now, one year on, it makes a return.
Although the sold out ‘Boxing Day’ fixture is being played the day after, the emotion around it still remains. Two big dinners and plenty of festivities all washed down with a Mid-Ulster derby clash. What more could you ask for?
Glenavon hope to deliver on a long overdue Shamrock festive win, following a run of decent run of form so far this month.
Speaking to Gary, he exclaims how hopeful he is for a win to end a long winless record at Shamrock Park on Boxing Day.
“From our point of view, it was disappointing that the Crusaders game was called off. It’s the second time they’ve been down with COVID, and we can’t do anything about that.
“We’ve been in training on Monday, Wednesday and Christmas Eve so we’re preparing as best as we can for the match.
“It’s been a long time unfortunately since we’ve won at Shamrock on Boxing Day. For me, as a supporter, that hurts because we want to win those games for the fans and for bragging rights because that’s what this is about.
“It’s been a long time coming and I’m hoping the boys can deliver this year. We’ve been in decent form recently. We got beat by Glentoran who are a good side, but it’s hard to beat a full-time team who’ve had a day’s rest when you’re a part-time team who’ve worked all day and were mentally and physically tired, which showed.
“Tomorrow, everyone is in the same boat. Both teams have had a few days break and we go into the game with no excuses and will hopefully grab a win. That’s what we’re looking for. We’d like to get that because it has been a long, long, long time coming. We can’t remember the last win at Shamrock on Boxing Day. I’ve been following Glenavon for a long time and I can’t remember so we want a win and hopefully the boys will go and deliver that.”
The winless Boxing Day run at Shamrock is a long record that Glenavon fans and players will have in the back of their mind as the two Mid-Ulster team’s fight it out tooth and nail for Boxing Day bragging rights.
Tomorrow afternoons game sees Matthew Snoddy’s name off the team sheet. He is yet to serve his match suspension for picking up five yellow cards so far this season. Doran and O’Mahony remain injured. Haughey and McCloskey will not be fit to start tomorrow’s game, however they are fit enough for the bench.
LAST TIME OUT
The first game of the current season saw Portadown host the Mid-Ulster derby at Shamrock Park. The game got off to a thrilling start when budding acrobat Matthew Fitzpatrick sunk a bicycle kick into the back of the net, only for it to be ruled out by offside. A few Purkis chances failed to convert, leaving the visiting fans on the edge of their seats.
Following that there were many chances for both sides, namely Croskery’s header that nodded the ball over Glenavon stopper Declan Brown, only for it come back off the post. In the first minute of stoppage time, Finnegan dragged home what appeared to be the winning goal for the hosts. The game seemed over and done with, with Glenavon fans leaving their seats, only for the Lurgan men to win a free-kick very shortly after the restart. Michael O’Connor stepped up the plate and curled a well-placed shot past Doherty to secure an equaliser for Glenavon.
Referee: Keith Kennedy
Assistant Referees: Jamie Carnduff, Kristian Hanna
Fourth Official: Tony Clarke