Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 20 August 2014

Donegal Celtic focused on Premier test: Packie

Some months ago Donegal Celtic assistant manager Pat McAllister predicted that anyone finishing above Portadown would win the Irish FA Championship.

And McAllister is full of belief that his team can do exactly that.

The entire Championship season has come down to one game, DC against the Ports — second against first respectively — at Celtic Park, with the winners gaining automatic entry into next season’s Premiership.

If that is Celtic then the Ports will face a play-off against Dungannon Swifts, but DC aren’t guaranteed that safety net as they would end up third if they lose and Loughgall beat Ballinamallard.

Only one team has left the Suffolk Road victorious this season and apart from that DC have won every home league game, which makes Portadown’s task of going straight back into the top flight far from easy.

“We’d have taken this scenario if we’d been offered it at the start of the season,” said McAllister.

“With our home record we are confident that we can do the job against Portadown over 90 minutes.

“Nobody at our club is thinking about a play-off and we’ve told the players not to either.”

This time last year the Ports were banished to intermediate football when they were late with their application for the Premiership.

DC lost their place in the top flight — despite finishing 11th and above Institute and Glenavon — when Bangor shocked everyone by doing enough work off the pitch to make up for what they couldn't manage on it.

While the Ports have always said they belong in the Premiership, McAllister claims the west-Belfast men do too.

“There were mistakes made off the pitch that I don’t want to go into, but we enjoyed our two years in the Premier League and we were competitive,” he said.

“I am confident that if we see this job through and get up that this club will never be back in intermediate football.”

l Armagh City FC have parted company with their manager Gary McKinstry.

A decision to end the partnership which had been in place since the departure of Colin Malone over two years ago, was taken by the Armagh City board on Thursday night.

The managerial reins have been handed to Ivor McGuickan, one-time Brantwood FC manager.

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