Mulvenna helps the Lurgan Blues to final

Tiarnan Mulvenna celebrates a goal for Glenavon
Tiarnan Mulvenna’s presence means there willl be Dundalk representation in this year’s Irish Cup final between Glenavon and Ballymena United at Windsor Park on May 3.

Tiarnan Mulvenna’s presence means there willl be Dundalk representation in this year’s Irish Cup final between Glenavon and Ballymena United at Windsor Park on May 3.

The local striker was part of the Glenavon side that beat Crusaders 3-1 after extra-time in an action packed semi-final at the Belfast venue last Saturday.

Paul Heatly but Crusaders in front before Mulvenna saw a 37th minute penalty well saved by Crues goalkeeper Sean O’Neill.

Prior to the semi-final, he had scored with spot-kicks against Linfield and Glentoran but a change of heart resulted in Saturday’s miss.

“I put those penalties to the right of the goalkeeper”, explained Mulvenna. “But before Saturday’s game our assistant manager told me, for some reason, to go straight down the middle. I shouldn’t have changed, if I had went to the right I would have scored.”

Ciaran Martyn forced extra-time with a 66th minute equaliser for Glenavon before substitute Mark Patton put them in front. Martyn’s second goal of the game booked the Lurgan club their first cup final appearance in 16-years.

At that stage Mulvenna had been replaced by player-manager Gary Hamilton with a swollen knee but that didn’t stop him from celebrating in the dressing rooms after the game.

“It was unbelievable”, he said. “Because Glenavon aren’t looked upon as a big club, we weren’t expected to reach a cup final. The Irish Cup has completely taken over the club and the town. Glenavon’s last cup final win came in 1997 when Tony Grant scored the winner and he is still looked upon as a legend. That is the way we want to be remembered.”

Ballymena United stand in Glenavon’s way but Mulvenna is confident his side have what it takes to win the cup.

“We’ve gone into every other cup game this year as the underdogs but that won’t be the way it is on May 3. We’ve a good squad and on our day we are as good a a team as there is in the Irish League.”

The cup final will mark the end of a good season for the 25-year-old. After making a hard decision to leave Dundalk in January, the move north of the border has worked out well.

“It’s a very similar club to Dundalk”, he said. “Glenavon were one of the biggest clubs in Northern Ireland in the past and then they had a rough period where they slipped down into the First Division. They’ve not got back on their feet as quick as Dundalk have in the past year but there is definitely similarities.

“From my own point of view I’m maybe not as fit as I’d like to be but that was due to the lay off over the winter break with Dundalk. I’m playing week in week out and I’m scoring a few goals. We are going to finish in the top six and I have a cup final to look forward to so it’s definitely a case of so far, so good.”