Last season Portadown made everyone sit up and take notice with the League Cup victory — however this year all eyes are on their Carling Premiership finish.
After their demotion to the Ladbrokes.com Championship, the Ports showed that they could still mix it with the best by claiming the Co-Operative Insurance Cup, before promotion back to the big time.
While boss Ronnie McFall wouldn’t turn down the chance to defend the trophy, his priorities lie in retaining their place in the top flight.
“Over a league campaign it's a marathon, not a sprint,” McFall said.
“The main competition for us is going to be the league championship, especially with suffering that relegation the season before last.
“It's important to make sure you're still in this division in a year's time.
“Linfield and Glentoran are favourites every year, I think that goes without saying.
“They are the two biggest clubs in the country, so they're going to be hard to stop.
“The Big Two start off as everyone's favourites and then you have Crusaders who come in off the back of an Irish Cup win and did very well in Europe, so it's going to be an interesting season.”
The Shamrock Park boss was attending the Carling Premiership’s official launch at the Grand Opera House yesterday — and he admits the launch reminded him what they were missing last year.
“It creates the interest and it helps to give everyone a buzz and you can see from today's events that everyone is up for it and looking forward to the kick-off.
“Managers, administrators and players are no different from that point of view, they can't wait for it to kick off.
“Team spirit was excellent last season, there was a unity and bond there and we're hoping that the same applies this season.
“We're looking forward to taking on Crusaders on Saturday, even though it's a very difficult start.”
While McFall’s men were exiled in Intermediate football these Irish League’s by and large suffered in Europe over the summer.
However McFall believes clubs must be careful what they wish for in regards to changes in the format.
“I think the only improvement (in Europe) you’re going to get is for clubs to go full-time,” he added.
“I think that’s why the southern clubs have gone well, not because they’re playing summer football, but because they’ve gone full-time.
“Basically a lot of clubs have gone virtually bust and almost all are struggling for money big style.
“I don’t see how we could sustain a full-time set-up here, it’s just the level we’re at.”