Hamilton highlights Murray’s strong Glenavon start as striker prepares to face former club

Glenavon manager Gary Hamilton following Saturday's 3-2 win over Linfield. Pic by Pacemaker.
Glenavon manager Gary Hamilton following Saturday's 3-2 win over Linfield. Pic by Pacemaker.

Stephen Murray will face familiar opposition in his next bid to build momentum towards a bright future at Glenavon.

The January signing may be new to life at Mourneview Park but is set to share the pitch tonight alongside past playing colleagues when Warrenpoint Town come to Lurgan.

Warrenpoint Town manager Matthew Tipton. Pic by INPHO.

Warrenpoint Town manager Matthew Tipton. Pic by INPHO.

The striker’s immediate impact has attracted praise from manager Gary Hamilton.

“You do your homework on every signing but it is part of football that some simply take longer than others to settle in at a new club,” said Hamilton. “But, all credit to Stephen, he has been excellent.

“We felt his strengths would complement our existing players and suit the style of play we try to produce.

“He has assists to his name, settled in really well within the gameplan and is now only missing goals but has come very close.

“Stephen is such an unselfish player and must be a dream for his team-mates as he will always try to do what is best for the team in any situation.

“Marc Griffin and Bobby Burns have been excellent up top but Stephen offers us that different option to play alongside Andrew Mitchell or in his place depending on circumstances.”

Momentum both individual and collective will form part of the backdrop to the night clash, with Murray seeking to continue his strong start within a Glenavon squad searching for sustained success off the 3-2 weekend win at Windsor Park over Linfield.

“It is about building on that result over Linfield but everyone is aware of how much admiration I have for a Warrenpoint side I consider the best outside our top four or five teams,” said Hamilton. “They will give us a real test and probably deserved more out of the first meeting between the clubs.

“Our attitude has to be right but we have a good group, in fairness, so it comes down to preparing in the right way for a strong Warrenpoint side.”

Murray may have departed the Milltown club but Warrenpoint Town manager should make the trip to Mourneview Park bolstered by the addition of two strikers in his matchday squad.

Speculation over the future of Darren Murray remains part of the Warrenpoint backdrop across this January transfer window but Tipton’s focus remains on the addition of players.

Alan O’Sullivan and Connor Farrelly have each been registered ahead of the derby date under the Lurgan floodlights.

“Alan had trials in the summer of 2016 with Warrenpoint and Portadown so we always kept him on our radar,” said Tipton. “He has scored 13 goals in as many games for Malahide United across the Leinster Senior League and also secured the Silver Boot as the second-top goalscorer at the World University Games in South Korea.

“He has been with Aberdeen and Shelbourne in the past and can boast an impressive scoring record.

“Connor is still only 16 years old and moved to Glasgow Celtic last year but couldn’t quite settle.

“I have followed Connor’s career with Cliftonville and at Northern Ireland youth international level as I know his family.

“He has been training with us since October and looks really sharp, with Celtic excellent in supporting Connor across the whole process.

“I have no hesitation in including him in our first-team squad.”

Warrenpoint secured success on Saturday by a single goal against basement-based Ballinamallard United to enhance the gap over the top division’s bottom two.

“We got the result we needed, plus a clean sheet, so achieved our targets,” said Tipton. “Looking back, the performance may not have been as strong as other displays in terms of dominating possession but we should take real confidence from the outcome.

“The hope is that provides a real spark.”