Glenavon begins its 2023-24 Sports Direct Irish Premiership campaign against Glentoran at Mourneview Park on Saturday. Gary Hamilton is looking forward to the resumption of competitive football but is under no illusions about the size of the challenge facing his players.

“It will be a difficult game,” he said. “Glentoran is a fulltime side with an abundance of talent all over the pitch. In fact, they could probably field two very strong teams. But we won’t approach it in a negative way. Last season we took seven points out of nine against them. If we are absolutely on it, give our very best and they are below par, we can get a result. It would be real confidence boost if we were to get off to a good start.”

Gary has been encouraged by his team’s performances in pre-season. “There have been some good displays,” he continued. “The players have all worked very hard. Some have been returning from injury and we have had to be patient with them. But, for the most part, I have been happy with what I have seen.”

The Donacloney man admitted that, in a few matches, Glenavon struggled somewhat defensively. “We conceded some bad goals against Ards and Ballinamallard. But, apart from that, we were fine. On the up side, we moved Isaac [Baird] into the middle of defence for three of the games and we kept clean sheets in all of them. That gives us another option, should it be needed.”

Hamilton is delighted to have been able to persuade Niall Quinn to put pen to paper following his decision to leave Linfield. “He is a quality player and a quality person,” he added. “I have admired him for a long time. He has looked superb in pre-season and will undoubtedly be a great asset.”

The Glenavon boss, of course, begins the new campaign without centre-forward Matthew Fitzpatrick. Aaron Prendergast, who announced his arrival on the Irish League scene with a stoppage time equaliser against Ballymena United in the dramatic curtain-raiser to the 2022-23 campaign, has been one of the Lurgan Blues’ best performers in pre-season. He has scored 11 goals and posed a constant attacking threat.

“AP has been very good,” added Gary. “He has worked hard, and his attitude has been superb. He is feeling confident and is looking forward to the competitive stuff. He has all the attributes to become a top striker. But he is still in his teens. We can’t expect too much too soon. Certainly, I won’t be putting any pressure on him.”

Andy Mooney, who joined Glenavon from Crumlin United, may also be in contention for a starting place against Glentoran. “Andrew is a big, strong boy who can hold the ball up, link well with others and score goals,” Gary continued. “He comes to us very much as Fitzy did three years ago. He has been playing at a lower level but has, I think, a chance of making it in the Irish League. Some players, like Fitzy, can take the step up and some can’t. Hopefully, Andrew will be a success.”

Finally, Gary remains busy searching for players to further strengthen his squad before the Summer Transfer Window closes. “We started looking for strikers last January and have been at it ever since,” he added. “We have talked to clubs, to agents, to players out of contract, inquired about permanent transfers, asked about loan moves, etc. etc. We have also tapped into all our contacts – and we have a lot in a lot of places – but have had very little success. The market is tough and seems to get tougher every year. But we have not given up hope. If we don’t sign anyone else, it won’t be for the want of trying.”

Glenavon v Glentoran, Last Season



Glenavon Scorers


Glenavon 2 Glentoran 1

Glynn, Prendergast


Glentoran 0 Glenavon 0



Glentoran 0 Glenavon 2

McCloskey, Fitzpatrick


Glentoran 5 Glenavon 0


Match Sponsors

Ball: Margaret Tinsley
MoM: Jack Pringle

Breaking News

In more breaking news Gary has confirmed that Odhrán Smyth was signed last night (2nd August) after his performance against Dollingstown.