MIDFIELDER Brian McCaul picked up another two goals on Saturday afternoon, taking his total to 13 in 16 matches during his loan-spell at Glenavon.
His goals were a vital contributor to the club’s survival in the Carling Premiership and as he returns to his parent club Linfield he is reflecting on his time at Glenavon with a rather modest outlook.
“I’m just delighted that we stayed up in the end,” he said.
“When we conceded the late goal on Saturday, I was just praying that Distillery hadn’t won their game so thankfully they hadn’t.
“I’m delighted with my form but more so that the lads have secured the club’s status in the league and my performances have maybe contributed to that but it’s been a team effort.”
Whether he would admit it or not, McCaul was certainly one of the key contributors since his arrival in January, evidenced as he picked up both the Triangle Supporters’ Club Player of the Year award and the Victoria Supporters’ Club Young Player of the Year award after the game on Saturday.
His efforts in the blue of Glenavon have secured the 21-year-old a new two-year contract with Linfield but McCaul says he will still have his work cut out to nail down a starting spot at Windsor Park.
And if things don’t happen to work out in Belfast, the midfielder says he wouldn’t rule out a return to Lurgan.
“I’m leaving Glenavon with a heavy heart,” he admitted.
“I’ve got to love the club and it’s been great so we’ll see what happens in the future. Football’s a long career and I wouldn’t like to say no. As I say, I’ve got to love the club and if it doesn’t work out at Linfield, who knows? Maybe.”
Glenavon gaffer Gary Hamilton certainly wouldn’t turn down the chance to manage McCaul again and was full of praise for the midfielder after Saturday’s match.
He said: “What can I say about Brian? He’s been fantastic for us. After watching him playing for five minutes, I knew he was a player. I didn’t think he was quite as good as he turned out to be but if the truth be told, he’s scored the goals that have kept us up.
“Since he came to the club, he’s been outstanding. I can honestly say that, bar Tony Grant, I’ve never worked with a more professional player. His attitude is fantastic.
“He’s got his heart in the right place and I believe that he’ll be a success at Linfield if he gets his chance. That’s the most important thing for Brian now. He came to Glenavon, got a taste of first-team football and the last thing he needs is to go back to Linfield and not play.
“I think that if Davy (Jeffrey) gives him his chance, he’ll be a big player there next season. If not, then maybe there’ll be a situation that he will be able to come back here but I wouldn’t be wishing that on Brian because that means that he hasn’t been successful at Linfield.”
Hamilton is under no illusions that he has McCaul to thank for Glenavon’s survival and neither are the fans. The club’s supporters have sent McCaul back to Windsor Park with glowing references on popular fans’ website www.irishleaguesupporters.com.
One fan commented that “we’d be down if it weren’t for him. He came in and has been absolutely superb for us. He has all the talent and the attitude to match. It didn’t really affect him whether we stayed up or went down but he seemed to care as much, if not more than the rest of the team. Top player and if given the chance will be a big player for Linfield.”
Also called a “one man rescue act” McCaul has clearly won the hearts of Blues’ fans during his time at the club.
It has certainly been a fantastic four months for a player who was largely unknown in Irish League circles before arriving at Mourneview Park in January.
If he remains as prolific as he has been in his first few months of senior football, he is sure to have a successful career.