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McFall points to strengthened Ports

By Stuart McKinley

Published 08/12/2006

Ronnie McFall last night stated that his Portadown side are better equipped than ever to challenge for the Setanta Sports Cup.

The Shamrock Park looked on in disbelief as his club were paired with Cork City for the third year in a row, with Shelbourne and Dungannon Swifts also in the same section as the Ports.

Last season McFall's men bowed out of the competition with something of a whimper as Cork and Drogheda United claimed the qualifying spots in the group and he is determined that the southern teams won't have it all their own way when things start again in February.

"We went into a game with Cork City last season with two inexperienced teenagers up-front and that was difficult for us," he said.

"Michael Collins struggled for fitness all of last season and had major ankle surgery during the summer. He is now fully fit and will be ready to show his quality in this competition again.

"We had problems last season which have been well documented, but those have been put behind us.

"We've strengthened the squad and players like Peter Kennedy, Allan Smart and Kevin Braniff will be looking forward to the challenge of playing in the Setanta Cup for the first time.

"The group we have got is tough, but it was always going to be. At the same time it gives us a chance of going through which is what we want.

"We weren't far away from being in the first final and want to make the semi-finals this time."

As for the draw McFall said: "We will be making what is becoming an annual pilgrimage to Cork. That is three years in a row and they are the one team we would have liked to avoid.

"Obviously we know Dungannon Swifts well and we were in the same group as Shelbourne in the first Setanta Cup.

"They are going through a transitional period and will have a new manager an d probably a few new players by the time we meet them."

Belfast Telegraph

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