IRISH CUP: Millar family tragedy the motivation for Glenavon’s derby success

Saturday's cup win proved an emotional day for Glenavon. Pics by Pacemaker Ltd.
Saturday's cup win proved an emotional day for Glenavon. Pics by Pacemaker Ltd.

The Irish Cup holders’ progress into the semi-finals proved of secondary significance to Glenavon following news of a personal tragedy.

The 5-0 derby rout of Portadown at Shamrock Park was played in the aftermath of confirmation by Glenavon of the sudden death of Philip Millar, the son of assistant manager Paul.

Manager Gary Hamilton paid tribute to his long-time friend and respected coach after the quarter-final win and dedicated the result to the Millar family.

“It was an emotional day for everybody and our driving force was not about getting into the semi-finals or a win for the fans but to do it for Paul,” said Hamilton. “Everyone at this club thinks so much of him and that victory was for Paul and his family.

“Paul has been a close friend of mine for a long time and we cannot begin to imagine what he is going through.

“I told the staff on Friday and then asked the players before the game to go out and win it for Paul.

“It proved how much Paul means to the players and all of us based on that performance.

“When the players came back into the changing room Paul was standing there and it was emotional for everyone.

“He had the difficult task of sorting out the funeral arrangements then drove to the ground and arrived just after the final whistle.

“There were a lot of tears in the changing room and it meant so much for everyone to see Paul after the match.

“We know this will not change anything but hopefully it gave him a smile, even for a few seconds or moments.

“The minute’s silence before the game was very respectful and Paul, of course, gave Portadown great service but everyone showed how football is a tight-knit community and on occasions like this the rivalry does not matter.”

Glenavon had to survive a promising start by Portadown but took control as play progressed, with Joel Cooper producing a dazzling individual display.

Ciaran Martyn broke the deadlock before the break then two goals inside eight second-half minutes by Cooper cemented Glenavon’s position of strength.

Mark Sykes stepped off the substitutes’ bench after 65 minutes and marked his cameo with an assist for James Singleton before heading home Bates’ cross for number five.

Portadown manager Niall Currie proved a frustrated figure after the final whistle as the boost off the back of spirited draws with the league’s top two sides in Crusaders and Linfield failed to carry into the cup tie.

“I just think we lacked everything and it’s hard to comprehend but too many of the old problems came back to haunt us as we were second-best all over,” said Currie. “We had a really good start to the game and should have scored but after that failed to win balls and they out-muscled us.

“Glenavon do not play in a complicated way but they do it effectively and simply wanted it more.

“We had everybody firing on all cylinders in recent weeks but when not at that level you can see what happens.

“It is about the manner of it as we had possession of the ball for four out of the five goals probably.

“It is disappointing that we, once again, failed to handle the expectations.

“There are going to be a lot of changes and decisions to make for the summer.”