happy return for currie

Shea McGerrigan levels the Irish Cup as Portadown recorded a 2-1 win over derby rivals Loughgall. Pic by Pacemaker.

Shea McGerrigan levels the Irish Cup as Portadown recorded a 2-1 win over derby rivals Loughgall. Pic by Pacemaker.

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Niall Currie won a string of silverware as Loughgall manager and left Lakeview Park celebrating another victory after his Portadown players recovered from an early setback to score two decisive second-half goals.

Peter Campbell, a former product of the Ports youth system, handed Championship-based Loughgall an early lead but the visitors bounced back to march into the quarter-finals.

Portadown made the short journey to Loughgall keen to shake off the problems of a season-long battle against Premiership relegation.

However, the hosts hit the first goal of the afternoon when, on 11 minutes, Campbell reacted first to convert a loose ball after debut Ports goalkeeper Jack Duffin was unable to hold John Uprichard’s long-range drive.

Portadown enjoyed the perfect start to the second half with an equaliser by former Loughgall winger Shea McGerrigan before Tiarnan Mulvenna capped clever footwork with a composed finish.

“I thought overall we were worthy winners and the main thing was we got a reaction in the second half,” said Currie. “We had a lot more energy after a slow tempo in the first half.

“The highlight for me was the senior debut of 17-year-old centre-back Ross Larkin.

“To see a young lad like that come in and prove so accomplished was great.

“We got some minutes from Shane Dolan off the bench and Mark McAllister is getting sharper.

“You need strong characters in the changing room and that is part of why we have looked at people like Shane and Shea.

“Shea is a match for a lot of people with his pace and skill.

“I was pleased too with Jack Duffin for his first football game in 14 months after playing rugby.

“It was the same with Adam Foley, we’ve got to keep him involved in games.

“Tiarnan was beating himself up at half-time after missing a few sitters but was busy up front and I am pleased with his character to keep on going.”

Loughgall manager Dean Smith - who played under Currie as a player at Lakeview Park - felt frustrated at a squandered opportunity to claim a senior cup scalp.

“We were pleased with the first half but it took us too long to get going in the second half and the players are really down at the minute,” said Smith. “Today was a great chance to beat Portadown and we are frustrated but, overall, I am proud of the effort and commitment.

“We knew Portadown would come at us in the second half and we conceded two goals which, from our viewpoint, could have been avoided.

“I think we had an absolute stonewall penalty turned down but now it is back to the Championship before the split and target that top-six league spot.”