Not even ‘humungous’ European prize can ‘close the gap’ on Glenavon rivals
Glenavon boss Gary Hamilton maintains European qualification will not have any significant impact on the financial gap within Irish League football - but still considers the prize as ‘humungous’ for his club.
A point from Saturday’s final Premiership fixture left the Lurgan Blues in the final semi-final slot towards reaching the Europa Conference League competition and reward of a cash boost.
Now Hamilton will travel tonight to Larne with Cliftonville hosting Crusaders in the other last-four clash between clubs aiming to secure Saturday’s showpiece showdown.
Larne welcome Glenavon having finished the season fourth and Hamilton considers the home club firm favourites.
Even if successful in securing the European gains, Hamilton also feels it would fail to “close the gap”.
“Europa would be humungous for this football club,” said Hamilton. “We are not expected to win...Larne are the favourites.
“They are going to be resting up Sunday, not working Monday, not working Tuesday and getting the proper recovery.
“But it is what it is - we just get on with it and accept what it is.
“One thing I know is I’ll not get from my boys a lack of effort, a lack of determination or a lack of will to win the game.
“I know that for a fact...hopefully that’s enough.
“Even Europe is not going to close a gap, it’s that massive.
“Europe is going to help you in terms of sustainability for the next couple of years but it’s not going to close any gaps.
“Anyone that thinks it is then is delusional.
“In my opinion, there’s that big a gap between the four clubs (Linfield, Glentoran, Larne and Crusaders) and the rest of us that it (qualification prize money) is not going to help.
“It will help us with options for our own squad and add money on to the budget...but it’s not going to be anywhere near the rest of those clubs.
“It’s an opportunity - I’m not saying we’re going to beat them but it’s probably a 60-40 or 70-30 game in their favour.
“But we know on our day if we perform and turn up we will give any team a game.
“Togetherness is one thing our changing room has and if you look through the top-six fixtures this season then we’ve been competitive against all of those teams.
“Anything can happen in any game of football.”