Belfast Telegraph

Derby win vital in tight title battle, says O'Hara

By Stuart McKinley

Keith O'Hara has claimed that there is more than bragging rights at stake in today's Mid-Ulster derby.

Indeed the Portadown captain believes that the outcome of the Shamrock Park clash could have ramifications on the title race, depending on results elsewhere.

The meeting of the Craigavon rivals is one of three derby battles on a huge weekend in the Danske Bank Premiership - with Crusaders facing Cliftonville and Linfield hosting Glentoran - and O'Hara expects a clearer picture to emerge at the top of the table by 5pm, with four points covering the top five before kick-off.

The Ports are second, three points behind Cliftonville and while they could be top by close of play, they could find themselves as low as fifth.

"This is the start of a big period before we play Glenavon again on Boxing Day and it's the same for all the teams who have their sights on winning the league," said O'Hara.

"It's not just the fact that our schedule of matches is tough, it's coming into that time of the year where the weather is turning, the pitches are going to get heavier and every match is going to be a real challenge.

"I've been playing for over 15 years and I've never known the league to be so tight. People say that two or three wins in a row can really shoot you up the table, but if you lose two or three in a row then a gap can open up above you and even at this stage it could be too much to claw back."

O'Hara will be happy with three points and the bragging rights, which will help him go to work, in Lurgan, on Monday morning with a smile on his face.

"When we win I don't see the Glenavon fans, but when we lose they are all in," he said.

"I've sold a lot of suits and bow ties to them for their 125th anniversary dinner, but I hope we spoil their party."

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