Shane McCabe: Portadown are sure to run out of steam
Shane McCabe says he is not convinced Portadown can sustain a title challenge.
The Glenavon maestro feels his mid-Ulster rivals may run out of steam when injuries and suspensions kick in at the business end of the campaign.
Ronnie McFall's charges are being tipped by many to wrestle the Gibson Cup off Cliftonville after the eye-catching summer captures of Michael Gault, Robert Garrett and Mark McAllister from Linfield. And a stunning opening day 3-0 over Linfield added weight to that argument.
Nine games into the title race and the Ports are level on points with Glenavon and Ballymena United at the top of the table.
And they put the Lurgan Blues to the sword at Mourneview Park, cruising to a 4-2 derby victory.
However, Shamrock Park old boy McCabe feels the Ports – who host Warrenpoint Town today – may stumble in the end and he's tipping Cliftonville's class to finally come to the surface.
"I have my doubts about Portadown, I do," said the former Glentoran man. "It's a long season of 38 games and when the injuries and suspensions mount up they really test the depth of squads.
"One to eleven Portadown are a fantastic team – as good as anyone else in the league – but the league is not won in one day. It's a marathon and I just feel that Cliftonville will still come good.
"They are going through a difficult time but they are champions for a reason and while the Ports have improved I'm not sure they will finish on top. Although it appears to be a wide open race at the moment I expect Cliftonville to be there or thereabouts when it matters. They are capable of going on a six to eight game winning run.
"From our perspective we have a good squad and a nice blend of youth and experience.
"We were thrilled to get the win over Linfield at Windsor Park and I felt we could have won by more goals. But no-one will be carried away with our league position at this stage of the season."
Glenavon's win at Linfield came courtesy of a free-kick straight out of the top drawer from Kevin Braniff. McCabe, who is gunning for Coleraine at the Showgrounds today, is happy to let the former Northern Ireland international produce a bit of magic from set pieces.
"I played with Kevin at Portadown and when he's on form he's unmarkable," added McCabe.
"When he's bad he's bad but when he's good he's untouchable and a different class. If he keeps scoring from free-kicks like that I might let him take a few more."
* Shane McCabe is keen to promote an online website for coaches of all ages.
Coaches Corner Ltd allows coaches to interact and share information and knowledge as they seek to implement successful methods.
Those interested in the fields of sports coaching, teaching, strength and conditioning, nutrition, psychology as well as elite level performers will find a wealth of information there.
A Coaches Corner session planner for gaelic, rugby and football has been developed as a user friendly platform and can be edited on desktop PC's, laptops and tablets to clearly display your practices on the field or strength and conditioning programs indoors. Glenavon and Portadown players have given the initiative their backing on Facebook and Twitter. Created last year, it aims to provide a service that will decrease your planning time, improve confidence and capability in coaching whether your just starting out or been on the sidelines for years.
The website is http://coachescorner.co.uk/