Semi-final place at stake as Ports and Newry clash again

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Portadown are determined that their Irish Trophy title will not be leaving their Edenvilla Park base.

But they know that they will have to bring their best game to the pitch this Saturday, when they take on Senior One and Linden Cup champions Newry.

This will be Portadown and Newry’s fourth clash this season and whilst it is two wins out of three for Newry, Portadown were the only team to take a point off the champions.

Even so, Portadown captain, Jeremy Rea is disappointed not to be playing one of the southern teams in the semi-final.

“No disrespect to Newry, but I am sure they would also have liked to be playing a southern team, after all that is why we enter these cup competitions, so that we can play against teams who we haven’t played against before,” stated Rea.

“We played Newry twice in the league and in the final of the Linden and whilst they have beaten us every time, previous results count for nothing, as it is a one off game and it just depends who can produce that piece of magic to win the game. And having home advantage will help us.

“Each of our games have been very good tight hard fought games and whilst they hammered us recently, we know that we have the players that can produce the goods on the day. And I don’t care how we play just as long as we do it.

“We will start as underdogs, as Newry have had a fantastic season, they played the most consistent hockey all season and we wish them every success in the Premiership next season. But the guys have been training very hard and are quietly confident.”

Whilst Portadown have sampled Irish trophy success, it is new stomping ground for Newry as they have bowed out in the early rounds over the last two seasons.

However, Newry have the added boost, that if they win the Trophy it will wrap up a remarkable treble winning season.

“This is our third Irish Trophy semi-final in a row, but winning it last season was just fantastic,” said Rea.

“I’m not too sure that because we have been there before really helps us, it might have if we had been playing Bandon or Clontarf the other semi-finalists.

“It was like last year’s final against Raphoe, whilst it was an all Ireland final, it was two teams who knew each others game and it just seemed a bit surreal. So I suppose that is what it will be like this week against Newry.

“But we are the holders and we will be defending our title as we want to hold on to it.”

Ulster clubs have a good track record in the competition as they have won four of the last five finals and let’s hope whoever reaches the final can go on to ensure the trophy remains in Ulster hands.