‘Every game will be a cup final’ insists Portadown Boss McFall

Portadown's Keith O'Hara
Portadown's Keith O'Hara

Ronnie McFall believes every game from now to the end of the season will be a “cup final” for Portadown.

The Ports’ title challenge may have faded in recent weeks, but they remain firmly in the hunt to secure an automatic European qualification spot.

They will earn that chance if they can finish in the top three come the end of the season.

The Shamrock Park side currently sit third with seven games remaining – but just one point ahead of fourth-placed Cliftonville.

McFall also has the small matter of next week’s Irish Cup semi-final showdown with Ballymena United to overcome.

It is all building to a rousing crescendo for Portadown as they look to finish the season on a high note.

And McFall is under no illusions as he prepares for the final furlong of the campaign.

“It is tight at the top of the Premiership, and it will be tight until the end of the season,” he said.

“I can’t see that changing over the next eight fixtures or so.

“Every game is going to be a cup final from now to the end of the season. We have seven league games and an Irish Cup semi-final to come. All massive fixtures for us.

“So we will take it one game at a time, and the attitude and commitment from the players has been superb. We just have to push on now.

“We need to finish the season with a decent run. We were too inconsistent recently.”

McFall believes the return of experienced defender Keith O’Hara will aid Portadown’s quest for success in the coming weeks.

O’Hara only recently returned from injury after being sidelined since mid-November.

The Ports have benefited from the club captain’s resurrection, securing back-to-back wins over Linfield before last week’s draw with Glentoran.

“I think we missed Keith O’Hara,” McFall said.

“It was a massive blow for us when he got injured. He gives us that leadership quality, something we had been lacking when he was injured.

“It is great having him back, and we are a different proposition now. He is still a bit sore, but that’s because he didn’t do anything for about three months.

“We will patch him up and get him through matches. He is naturally fit so he is a big asset for us.”

Next up for Portadown is the visit of Dungannon Swifts to Shamrock Park tomorrow afternoon (3pm).

The Swifts are desperate to claw themselves away from a potential relegation battle, with last week’s 1-0 win over Ballymena United bolstering their hopes.

McFall expects a tough clash when the two sides meet tomorrow.

“It is going to be another difficult game,” he said.

“People keep talking about the Irish Cup semi-final against Ballymena next week, but we are not looking that far ahead.

“We have Dungannon on Saturday and then we will worry about Ballymena in the cup.

“We have to take it one game at a time.”