Gary McCutcheon is backing Portadown to come back fighting with a charge for the Irish FA Premiership title next season.
And the man whose goal landed the Co-operative Insurance Cup for the Shamrock Park men on Saturday when they beat Newry City 1-0 in the Mourneview Park decider, believes that the Ports would be in with a great shout of being champions this time around — had an administrative error not lead to them being banished to intermediate football at the end of last season.
A missed deadline with their application for the Premiership deemed that the club which won the league as recently as 2002 also missed the cut when the top flight was trimmed from 16 teams to 12 last summer.
Aside from the near obscurity that is the Irish FA Championship, the Ports had to play acouple of extra rounds before mixing it with the big boys in the Co-operative Insurance Cup.
And when they did McFall’s men proved that while they may be an intermediate club, the team on the pitch is every bit as much a senior outfit as they were last season.
Seeing off first Cliftonville, then Linfield and finally Glentorna in the semi-finals, the Ports put paid to three teams who have occupied the top three spots in the league both last season and the one before.
All that only serves to strengthen McCutcheon’s claims that the Ports would be title contenders,
had they not been banished from the top table — even if it is purely a hypothetical discussion.
”Portadown are still a big club in this country,” said McCuthcheon.
“It’s been a long road beatuing Cliftonville, Linfield and Glentoran to get here and we wanted to finish it off.
“Newry pressed in the second-half and we didn’t take the chacnes that we had to kill the game off, but one goal was enough.
“Believe it or not we are probably a stronger team and a better side than when we were in the Premier League.
“We were fourth in the last couple of years and I think we’re better now. Glentoran Linfield have lost more points this year than in the last five years, so it might have been interesting if we’d been up there.
“If we can attract more quality players we’ll be a right strong side next season, provided we go up.
“We’ve still got a lot of work to do. We play on Tuesday night in the league and that’s what it’s about next, trying to get three points to make sure we get oursleves back up.”