Niall Grace excited with Glenavon move

Institute's Niall Grace. DER4417-115KM
Institute's Niall Grace. DER4417-115KM

Midfielder Niall Grace admits he can’t wait to get started with Glenavon.

The Creggan man, who signed a three year deal with Gary Hamilton’s side on Monday night, concedes the chance to play European football was a huge factor in his decision to join the ‘Lurgan Blues’.

“I can’t wait to get going and for me to play Europa League football is going to be incredible,” he stated.

“I have seen the likes of Jackie (Ciaron Harkin), Stevie O’Donnell and Darren McCauley all do well at Coleraine and win things and I want to do that. I believe Glenavon is the right club for me to try and achieve that.

“Now I’m not saying Institute aren’t going to do that but Glenavon finished third this season and have won the Irish Cup twice in the last five years. Having spoken to Gary Hamilton, I know he wants to try and close the gap on the top sides and keep winning trophies.”

Grace, who had three seasons with the Waterside men, is also looking forward to playing and learning things from ex-Northern Ireland international Sammy Clingan.

“The chance to play with players like Sammy Clingan is going to be great. I want to learn how he approaches things. Even playing with someone like Mark Sykes, who is an U21 international, these players will improve my game and that’s the challenge for me.

“I had three great season’s with ’Stute and they gave me a chance to play senior football.

“Leaving ’Stute was a tough decision for me but I’m delighted to be moving after winning the Championship and getting the club back into the Premiership where they belong. I’m looking forward to playing against them in the top flight next season, it will be strange facing them and I know a few of the boys will want to kick me,” he joked.

As for Glenavon manager Gary Hamilton, he’s delighted to add the 25-year-old to his squad for the next three years.

“Niall is a player who I have looked at for some time,” insisted the Glenavon boss.

“I was really impressed by Niall’s attitude, not once did he talk about money until the end of our first meeting, when I brought it up. He just wants to improve and learn and that’s the type of player I want.

“He’s very similar to Ciaran Martyn. He’s box to box and scores goals. I was thinking about going for him in January, but I felt it was best for him to stay at Institute and continue to play football.

“At the end of the day I had Sammy Clingan, Mark Sykes and Bobby Burns in my midfield, but now we have a space available, so Niall will be given a chance, but he has to do well to fill that gap.

“I would like to thank Institute chairman Bill Anderson and Paddy (McLaughlin) for being very professional in terms of sorting out the deal.”