IRISH LEAGUE: McCabe’s return to Portadown could end in relegation

Ballinamallard United's Shane McCabe has enjoyed his career connections to Portadown with and against the club. Pic by PressEye Ltd.

Ballinamallard United's Shane McCabe has enjoyed his career connections to Portadown with and against the club. Pic by PressEye Ltd.

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Shane McCabe spent 17 months helping Portadown challenge for silverware - tonight (Friday) he will return to Shamrock Park and try to relegate the club.

McCabe left Glentoran to sign for the Ports in 2010 before a departure at the start of 2012 to focus on his GAA commitments.

The veteran midfielder is back in town with Ballinamallard United tonight in the Danske Bank Premiership when any result short of home success will cement Portadown’s drop.

United, of course, remain on the fringes of the relegation battle and stand clear of the play-off spot by 11 points before kick-off with four games left on the league calendar.

McCabe’s obvious priority is a victory for current club United to help secure senior safety but admits sympathy for his former employers.

“I spent close to two years with Portadown alongside some quality players,” said McCabe. “It is a great club, with fantastic supporters and even with other teams I enjoyed playing at Shamrock Park.

“It is disappointing to see the club in this situation but, hopefully, if they do go down they can bounce back straight away just like the last relegation.

“I think they have the right man in charge in Niall Currie.

“We know it is going to be a real battle given what is at stake but we can only look after our own situation.”

McCabe and United visit Shamrock Park off the back of a morale-boosting 3-0 success over Glentoran that cut short a losing streak at five fixtures.

Victory would mark only a second success at the Portadown ground for United in five seasons.

“We had been playing well in most of those five defeats and unlucky not to get more points during that period,” said the 35-year-old. “Portadown have a good record against us but we should take confidence from the Glentoran win.

“It is all about keeping our Premiership status and achieving that goal as quickly as possible.

“Gavin Dykes has come in and, by his own admission, probably had to learn to adapt to this league.

“We have some really exciting young players and are strongest going forward but need to tighten up our defensive record.

“I have been relegated in my career with Glenavon and won the title with Glentoran so Gavin is keen for me to bring that experience to the other players.

“The legs may not be there as much as before and the other lads may not always enjoy me talking but I’m happy to help whatever way I can and it is a squad moving in the right direction.”