IRISH LEAGUE: Ballymena and Portadown switch focus to rebuilding process

Portadown's Ken Oman gets up to nod home for the opening goal against Ballymena
Portadown's Ken Oman gets up to nod home for the opening goal against Ballymena

Barely had the final whistle sounded in this game before both managers were already making plans for their respective rebuilding jobs.

The 2015/16 Danske Bank Premiership campaign won’t last long in the memory at either Shamrock Park or the Showgrounds, but at least visiting manager Pat McGibbon could raise a smile as his side secured the win that eradicated any lingering worries of being dragged into a relegation play-off.

Goals from Ken Oman and Matty Parker took the Ports past the limp challenge of Ballymena leaving McGibbon - who was appointed on a permanent basis earlier in the week - to start making plans, even with the handicap of being unable to sign new players on professional contracts, following the club’s recent brush with officialdom.

“I don’t know how difficult it’s going to be (to attract players) until I start making the phone calls,” said the former Manchester United defender.

“My biggest concern is the group we had, that we got a result and then the group of players that we’re going to assemble, that they are as hard-working for the club as we can get.

“The players have shown enough in the last few games to show they have a commitment to the club, they’re pushing and they have a load of enthusiasm. But they need to continue to show that consistently in order to be in the side.

“We now need to move on and get a new group of players and make sure there’s a lot of cohesion in the squad.

“We have to scour high and wide wherever we can to get the best players possible to start the season off well.

“Vinny (Arkins) has loads of contacts down south and I worked down south myself with Monaghan United and we will go wherever we need to go to get players,” added McGibbon.

Ballymena’s listless display was all the more surprising given that they started the day still with a chance of making the Europa League play-offs and boss David Jeffrey admitted: “I’m disappointed that the players didn’t perform in a way that was true to themselves.

“We have been carrying out an ongoing assessment of what players do we retain and what areas we need to strengthen,

“That process has already started and obviously we have looked at several areas where we think could be strengthened.

“We’re going to move very quickly. There has got to be some reflection and analysis on our assessment but we have to sit down and make hard decisions - that will be pretty sharpish.

“We have to look at which players are out of contract, which players we would like to re-engage and we also have to be clear on which players want to re-engage with us - there may be players who don’t want to be here, it’s not a one-way street,” the United boss added.