GARY Hamilton knows his Glenavon side must put in their best performance if they are to dump Crusaders out of the Irish Cup at Mourneview Park on Saturday (kick off 3pm).
Hamilton’s first league win as Glenavon manager came against the Crues in December and the Blues will be going all out to replicate that victory in order to secure a place in the Irish Cup quarter-finals this weekend.
However, the boss isn’t under any illusions as to how difficult Saturday’s game against Stephen Baxter’s men will be.
“It’s a massive game and a massive opportunity for the boys,” he began.
“If we can win that, we’re two games away from a final. We proved to ourselves that we can beat Crusaders already and there’s no reason why we can’t do it again.
“To do that, the boys will need to do the things that they did against Crusaders in December. It was all down to hard work, effort and determination and on that night, nine or ten players performed. That’s what you need to do to beat top teams.
“Eight, nine or ten players need to perform to their maximum and unless they do that, it’s a difficult task but I have faith that if my players can perform to their abilities then they can get a result, as they showed in the last game.”
And after overcoming Portadown in the fifth round of the competition last month, is Hamilton allowing himself to dream of managing his boyhood club to this season’s Irish Cup final?
“I don’t think like that. I think about the next game and that’s it. Yes, we’d love to get to the Irish Cup Final but the most important thing for the club this season is the league. If we got to the final and got relegated, then it would mean nothing to the club.
“If we could survive relegation and get to the final though, who wouldn’t want that? I want to see the club in Cup Finals and challenging for trophies. We’ve seen Larne in a final and DC in semi-finals recently so there’s no reason why we can’t do it. You just need four or five big performances.
“It’s shocking that Glenavon haven’t been in a final or a semi-final for so long so if we can get a result against Crusaders and the draw’s good to us, you never know.”
In perfect time to aid the club’s Cup campaign, Peter McCann could make his long-awaited return from injury this weekend but new signing Matty Burrows is cup-tied whilst the club have received confirmation that John Convery is available as he only took a seat on the bench during previous club Cliftonville’s fifth round tie.
“There is a situation that Peter could be involved in the squad. It’s good to have somebody like him back because he’s a leader and he’s a winner and he has experience of winning trophies and also with getting relegated with Newry last year. He knows what that feels like and he’ll not want to feel it again so it’s good to have him back,” said Hamilton.