Managers’ praise for Joe Gormley and Rhys Marshall as Glenavon host Cliftonville

Joe Gormley following his weekend hat-trick for Cliftonville. Pic by INPHO.
Joe Gormley following his weekend hat-trick for Cliftonville. Pic by INPHO.

The collective focus may prove priority for managers but both Gary Hamilton and Paddy McLaughlin spent time ahead of Saturday’s Mourneview Park meeting to recently discuss the strength of individuals within each squad.

The Reds visit Lurgan aiming to enhance a spot as second in the current Danske Bank Premiership standings - with Glenavon out to build on a confidence-boosting performance against Crusaders from back-to-back home dates.

It was a 2-2 draw with the Crues which featured Rhys Marshall involved in both Glenavon’s goals in another dynamic display by the bright talent out of contract at the end of the current campaign.

“Rhys is a top, top player - he can play anywhere and he has got every attribute going,” said Hamilton on the latest edition of BBC Sport NI’s Irish League Behaviour podcast - adding that he “can’t understand why he hasn’t got a move across the water”. “Some scouts have told me they have been put off by his lack of physical strength but I know that doesn’t affect him.

“There is the potential he could leave but we’re never going to give up on trying to keep him.

“Lads like that are like your family - they’ve come through the system and we desperately want Rhys to sign.”

Joe Gormley’s hat-trick for Cliftonville last weekend against Dungannon put the feared forward on 201 goals from 301 appearances with the Reds.

“Joe is an amazing player and you could never meet a nicer fella,” said McLaughlin in the aftermath of the 5-0 victory. “This is an Irish League legend playing at his peak and we should all appreciate his talents – especially the fact he’s doing it all in a Cliftonville shirt.

“To score more than 200 goals for any club is a great achievement but 201 in 301 appearances is incredible.

“It’s a great record but he’s not finished yet, he’s plenty more goals left in him.

“We’re going along very nicely at the minute and it’s nice to be up at the top end of the table but there’s a long way to go and it’s a very competitive league.

“It will be competitive right throughout the season but we’re glad to be in the mix at the minute and it’s just about making sure we keep working hard to try and stay there.

“We had to work for it (against Dungannon Swifts) but, once we got going, we were very good and always looked dangerous.

“It’s ironic that we’d worked so hard to score with our usual style of play and then ended up scoring twice from a wee bit of route one stuff.”

Hamilton also took time on the podcast to reflect on a season in which Glenavon have suffered heavy defeats to Larne and Linfield during an inconsistent campaign disrupted by a significant injury list but one which has led to the Lurgan Blues following the path of Marshall and others by offering first-team experience to another generation of bright prospects.

“I want to prove I’m still the same manager I was for the last eight years,” said Hamilton on the podcast available online. “I haven’t changed overnight or done anything differently.

“Getting beaten by scorelines like that is not acceptable but when it happens I analyse myself first and foremost.

“It’s hard, you go home after a game and in the case of the defeat by Larne I was up until 6am sitting by myself thinking about the match, looking at the highlights, looking at the stats we get and going through them.

“Then I go onto Facebook. I’ve never posted anything on social media in my life but I go on and read.

“That drives me to prove people wrong.

“People may find it a bit perverse but I love reading social media, I love reading the negativity because I want to prove people wrong.”