Time to turn the derby tide

GLENAVON boss Gary Hamilton is out to turn the tide in Mid-Ulster.

Since the turn of the century the Mid-Ulster derby has been dominated by Portadown and that is a trend Hamilton is desperate to change.

The Blues have won just five of 38 derbies since 2000 with Portadown smashing their way to 24 victories including two 4-0 wins, a 5-0 and a 6-0 trouncing.

However, Hamilton is convinced this heartbreaking trend for the blue side of Craigavon is starting to change. There have been brief moments of hope in recent seasons with Glenavon finally looking like they could hold their own.

They even knocked the Ports out of the Irish Cup last season thanks to goals from loan-signing Brian McCaul and Hamilton himself.

Glenavon have also picked up draws in four of the last ten derbies and now the boss wants to turn those stalemates into more derby delight starting this weekend.

“It’s a big game for everybody associated with the club,” he said. “The derbies are games that everyone looks forward to and everyone wants to get a result in.

“Mid-Ulster derbies in the last 10 years have been dominated by Portadown. That’s a trend that we want to try and change but these things don’t happen overnight.

“We don’t want Portadown to dominate the majority of derby matches like they had done for a long time. Over the past couple of seasons, it hasn’t been as one sided so it’s starting to swing back a little bit.

“We’re starting to hold our own but we want to get a good win now. Since I came to the club we haven’t got a win at Shamrock so it would nice to do that on Saturday.”

Hamilton knows, however, getting that victory won’t be easy. The Blues have struggled away from home this season and haven’t won at Shamrock Park since 2008. The Ports will also be on a high following their 3-0 victory over Coleraine in the Irish Cup quarter-final so the boss knows only the best performance from his side will get a result.

He said: “Portadown will be full of confidence after their result last week. It means they still have something to play for with a semi-final now coming up.

“We’ll have to match them for their fight and work-rate because that’s the only way we’re going to get a result. If we don’t put in the effort that we did against Ballymena and Glentoran then we’ve got no chance.

“There’s enough quality in our squad of players that we can give them a game. There’s no reason why we can’t go there and get a result if we do put in that effort.

“The boys shouldn’t need any motivation to do that either. That should take care of itself for a derby match. We should never be saying after the game that Portadown worked harder than us.”

A win for Glenavon would also have the bonus of severely hampering Portadown’s quest to reach the top six, although Hamilton isn’t admitting that he is out to sabotage his former side’s season.

“It doesn’t make much of a difference to us where they finish,” he claimed.

“It’s more about us and three points would hopefully move us further away from the teams below us.”