IRISH LEAGUE: Euro rally cry by Glenavon boss Hamilton

Glenavon manager Gary Hamilton.'' Mandatory Credit Photo Lorcan Doherty /
Glenavon manager Gary Hamilton.'' Mandatory Credit Photo Lorcan Doherty /

After 38 Danske Bank Premiership games and a run to the Irish Cup semi-finals, Glenavon’s season - and future - will now be defined by one final week of football.

The Lurgan Blues tackle Cliftonville at Solitude tonight in the Europa League play-off semi-finals.

Victory would set up a showdown on Friday, May 12 against either Ballymena United or Dungannon Swifts to secure European qualification.

Manager Gary Hamilton is backing his players to rise to the occasion and produce the performance levels required to kick off the summer rebuilding plans in style.

“Our players have experience of Irish Cup final weeks so preparations for the play-offs should be pretty similar,” said Hamilton. “They know it all comes down to next week, the biggest of the season.

“Players look back on those European experiences as some of the highlights of a career and it obviously offers a major financial boost for the club.

“The reality is, we will have to make cuts if next week ends in disappointment so the players are going out to protect the future.

“There is no such thing as a preference when it comes to four teams trying to qualify for Europe but certainly a trip to Solitude is always a test given the pitch.

“Tommy Breslin has returned to the club and given everyone a lift around Cliftonville so we know to expect high-tempo football and lots of commitment.

“But we will work hard this week and on Saturday then go in ready for the challenge.”

Hamilton considers Chris Turner a major concern due to hamstring trouble but must assess leading striker Greg Moorhouse and promising defender Caolan Marron following injury issues picked up last weekend against Crusaders.

Four supporters’ club buses will be leaving from Mourneview Park at 6.15 on Monday.

Kick-off at Solitude will be 7.45.