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Our fans deserve lot more to shout about: Shannon

By Stuart McKinley

Portadown fans haven't had much to cheer about since Lurgan Celtic stunned Shamrock Park in the quarter-finals of the Irish Cup this time last year.

Brendan Shannon is determined to change all that by giving the supporters who have backed the players through the most difficult season in the club's history a Cup semi-final.

Boss Ronnie McFall walked out after 29 years at the helm immediately after that shock defeat 12 months ago, successor Pat McGibbon quit three months into the new season and in between the club was hit with a ban on signing professional players and a 12-point penalty for making undisclosed payments.

That left the threat of relegation hanging over the Ports from the start of the season and a 3-0 defeat to Ards three weeks ago hammered another nail into the coffin.

However, results and performances since then - a draw against Linfield at Windsor Park followed by another against champions and league leaders Crusaders - mixed with the motivation of an Irish Cup quarter-final derby battle against holders Glenavon have given Shannon and his team-mates hope that better things are just around the corner.

"It's going to be a massive game," said Shannon. "We are going in on the back of two good performances, playing well and we feel like the squad is gelling at the right time and hopefully we'll go out against Glenavon and hopefully we can go out and get a place in the semi-finals.

"Within the squad things have changed over the last weeks. There is a bit more belief amongst the team and against Crusaders I don't think anyone could argue that we created more chances and on another day we could have won the game.

"We're happy with the way we've played in the last two games, but disappointed that we only got a point out of each.

"It would give everyone around the club a massive lift if we could get to the Irish Cup semi-final. The manager says to us every week that the fans have our backs. We are trying to put the effort in and even though things haven't gone our way they backed us all the way and it would be great for us to give them a semi-final."

Matches between the mid-Ulster rivals this season have been close. Glenavon were 1-0 winners back in October before they needed a last-minute equaliser in a 2-2 draw on Boxing Day - although the Ports were awarded a 3-0 win due to David Elebert playing when he should have been suspended.

The Lurgan Blues also won 2-1 at Shamrock Park in January.

"We've done well in the last two home games against Glenavon and maybe let ourselves down a bit on Boxing Day when we let a 2-0 lead slip," said Shannon.

"We have shown what we can do, it's just frustrating that we haven't shown it more often.

"We know we can go at Glenavon, take them on and hopefully we can get a win."

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