Belfast Telegraph

Ronnie McFall: Keith O'Hara has steadied Portadown ship

By Stuart McKinley

Ronnie McFall has paid tribute to captain Keith O'Hara for his part in Portadown's recent revival.

The Shamrock Park skipper missed a large chunk of the season through injury, but since he returned in the scoreless draw against Ballinamallard United back in January the Ports have lost just once in six games and have progressed to the semi-finals of the Irish Cup - with only four goals conceded in those games too.

The fact that O'Hara's method of managing his injury problems means that he barely trains with his team-mates makes his level of performance even more remarkable and the Ports fans voted him as their Player of the Month for February.

With next Saturday's semi-final clash with Ballymena United coming up, as well as some crunch post-split league games in their chase for Europe, O'Hara is going to be key to the Ports' hopes of ending the season on a high.

"We missed Keith O'Hara. When he was out it was a massive blow to us," said McFall, ahead of tomorrow's home clash with Dungannon Swifts.

"He gives us that leadership and organisational qualities that we haven't got when he's not there.

"That was a big minus for us. Once he came back in we were a different proposition.

"He's still sore because he didn't do anything for about three months. We get him through matches and he's not training much.

"He's naturally fit anyway, so that's not an issue for him. It's not like when he was playing at left-back when you're looking for him to bomb on down the line. He doesn't have to do that.

"His experience carries him through and he reads the game very well."

The state of the Shamrock Park pitch has been well documented in recent times and tomorrow will be the Ports' third home game in as many weeks and home advantage doesn't really suit them at present.

"I don't think it's done us any favours. I know when we've been playing on a decent surface that's when we are at our best," said McFall. "Any of the decent surfaces we do well, but it's there and we've just got to get on with it. It's not going to change now."

Belfast Telegraph


From Belfast Telegraph