CIARAN Martyn reflected back on a series of uncanny events during Glenavon’s Irish Cup victory at the Oval on Saturday and dedicated his goal to the memory of his good friend and former teammate, Mark Farren, who sadly lost his battle with cancer last week.
It was a game of sentimental coincidences for the Sligo native who was mourning the death of the former Derry City and Glenavon striker who was laid to rest in his native Greencastle the previous morning.
And the timing of the Lurgan Blues’ goals proved significant as Rhys Marshall netted on 10 minutes - the shirt number worn by Farren while representing Glenavon - before Martyn produced the second goal on 18 minutes - the jersey number retired by Derry City in tribute to the Greencastle man.
It was a poignant tribute to the memory of a man so well respected and admired among the football community and it was a special moment for Martyn who celebrated his strike in front of a picture of his late friend.
And the former Derry City midfielder believes Farren must have been looking down at him on Saturday, urging him to score that memorable goal in the 4-1 rout against the holders.
“After the events of the week, it was important to dedicate that win to Mark,” said Martyn. “It was a big win and the fact we scored in the 10th minute, which was his number at Glenavon, and then with myself scoring in the 18th minute, which was his number at Derry, not to mention the fact I played with him at Derry, it was very uncanny.
“It’s hard to explain,” he added. “Mark must have been watching down on us and saying, ‘go on, big man, get in the box and do what you do,” he laughed.
“It was a special moment. The football community in general were taken back by his passing. When we scored the first, the Glentoran fans actually stood up to applaud which shows you, while they were disappointed their team conceded, they still appreciated that it was more important to respect Mark Farren. So, I was very touched by that.”
Martyn was at the forefront of the fundraising campaign during Farren’s prolonged battle against a brain tumour alongside former teammates, Ruaidhri Higgins and Kevin McHugh, and Farren’s brother-in-law, Shaun Holmes.
Mark must have been watching down on us and saying, ‘go on, big man, get in the box and do what you do’.Ciaran Martyn
And he remembers fondly a special connection between himself and Farren during their playing days at Brandywell.
“I remember him coming into the squad at first. He was playing in the reserves as a left back and, then, ‘Oxo’ McLaughlin put him up front and he turned out to be one of the best players at Brandywell - a prolific finisher and his record speaks for itself.
“He was a really nice guy and you couldn’t say anything bad about him. He was great around the changing room, he was great with the kids and it was lovely to spend those days playing alongside him. It was very hard to deal with when he passed away.”
Martyn is currently making his comeback after a ruptured Achilles injury which kept him out for the past six months and he’s already made a huge impact since making his return on January 18, scoring two goals in his last two games.
Farren was in the Glenavon squad at the start of the 2013/14 season when Glenavon last won the Irish Cup and Martyn’s hoping they can go all the way this year again in memory of the Inishowen man.
“That’s two in two but we’ll not get carried away,” he smiled. “I might be getting slower but you still have to get into the box. I had a terrible time with a ruptured Achilles and I’m blessed to be out running around on the football pitch. You’ve got to enjoy your football while it lasts.”
With Loughgall in the quarter-finals, Glenavon have a great chance of making it into the last four but Martyn has his feet planted firmly on the ground.
“You cant get ahead of yourselves. But, if we did get there, it goes without saying, Mark will be at the forefront of our minds.”