Irish Premiership: Ballymena Utd 2-4 Glenavon

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Declan O'Brien scores a hat-trick as Glenavon beat Ballymena 4-2 in the Irish Premiership

Glenavon debutant Declan 'Fabio' O'Brien scored a hat-trick as the Lurgan Blues beat Ballymena to secure their first win in eight league games.

Ciaran Martyn scored the opener but Darren Boyce tapped in the equaliser two minutes after the interval.

O'Brien fired home and then slotted into the net after rounding Stuart Addis to make it 3-1 after 80 minutes.

New Ballymena signing Gary McCutcheon rifled in a superb 30-yard half-volley before O'Brien completed his treble.

McCutcheon, beginning his second spell with the Showgrounds club, went close early on but his left-foot shot was saved by James McGrath.

Eoin Bradley had an attempt cleared off the line by Johnny Taylor and the forward then rolled a penalty wide of the post after O'Brien had been fouled inside the area.

Martyn opened the scoring with a superb first-time finish from Bradley's inch-perfect pass in the 17th minute, his eighth league goal of the season.

Goalmouth action from Ballymena v Glenavon at the Showgrounds
Goalmouth action from Glenavon's win over Ballymena at the Showgrounds

Ballymena ended the half brightly as Matthew Tipton saw his volley cleared off the line by Conor Dillon and Tony Kane's long-range drive fell into the arms of McGrath.

Boyce slid in to convert Gary Thompson's pinpoint cross from the right to restore parity, then O'Brien, 35, struck the ball beyond Addis after Martyn found him with a flicked header.

Rhys Marshall cleared an Allan Jenkins shot off the line, but O'Brien soon extended the visitors' advantage with a cool finish.

McCutcheon fired wide but then found his range with an excellent finish two minutes from time to offer the home side hope of grabbing a point.

O'Brien, Drogheda United's all-time leading goalscorer, tapped in from close range a minute later, with Ballymena players left appealing in vain for offside.

The result represents Glenavon's eighth victory in 10 meetings with Ballymena.

Glenavon's Declan O'Brien: "I had a couple of early chances that didn't go in but eventually I got my name on the scoresheet and then the game opened up and I killed the game off with two late goals.

"It was nice to help the club get a win after a lean spell over the last couple of months."

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