Philip Lowry: I can't wait to finally play for Ronnie McFall and Portadown
Philip Lowry has described the opportunity to return to the Irish League as a "bolt from the blue" but it took only a matter of minutes for him to make up his mind to join Portadown.
Ports boss Ronnie McFall moved to pull the former Linfield and Derry City midfield ace out of a sabbatical, having left the Brandywell outfit before the end of the League of Ireland season to move to London.
The sale of Darren Murray to Cliftonville has allowed McFall to enter the transfer market and the capture of Lowry is a major boost to Portadown's hopes of claiming a top-six finish in the Danske Bank Premiership, as well as an Irish Cup run.
The 26-year-old, who will join former Linfield team-mates Robert Garrett, Michael Gault and Mark McAllister at Shamrock Park, has signed until the summer.
"I have been in London since early November and playing football hadn't really been on my agenda until I got a call out of the blue from Ronnie McFall last Sunday," said Lowry.
"It only took a day or two to sort everything out. It all went smoothly and I can't wait to get playing now.
"Since my signing was announced I've been inundated with text messages from old team-mates, a few of whom I will see when I walk into the Portadown dressing room because of the old Blues connection that is there now."
Lowry is likely to be the last signing that McFall makes as Portadown manager and the player's arrival is hugely significant for the boss.
"Ronnie McFall has tried to sign me three or four times over the years, so that's probably why I was so interested when the call came," said Lowry.
"I'm looking forward to playing for someone with his level of experience and record of success.
"It's good that he's forgiven me for scoring the winner against Portadown in the 2010 Irish Cup final and hopefully I can help Portadown improve and have a strong end to what has been a poor season for the club so far."
The Irish FA haven't yet received international clearance from the FAI for Lowry, meaning he isn't eligible to play for the Ports in tonight's rearranged Premiership game away to Warrenpoint Town.
Instead he is expected to make his debut against champions and league leaders Crusaders at Shamrock Park on Saturday.
Tonight's game is huge for both sides. Portadown are six points behind Glentoran in the battle to make the top-six cut and the trip to Milltown is one of two games in hand.
Warrenpoint go into the game in a buoyant mood after a stunning 3-0 win over fourth-placed Coleraine on Saturday.
Not only was it their first home victory of the season, it was also the first time that Barry Gray's team had put three points on the board since beating Carrick Rangers way back on September 5, 16 games ago.
The loan captures of Martin Murray and Johnny McMurray from Cliftonville, plus the signing of Tiernan Mulvenna, have bolstered Gray's squad for their relegation battle and Saturday's success has increased his belief that they can beat the drop.
"We said before Saturday that we had these three games to deal with," said Gray.
"The Ballinamallard and Carrick games were off so it was an opportunity to close the gap.
"Before Saturday we were 10 points behind Ballinamallard with a game in hand so we've got that game back and closed the gap to seven.
"Three or four weeks ago, we probably wouldn't have imagined chasing Ballinamallard so it goes to show where we are and what we need to do."
Gray has warned his players to look forward now, rather than reflecting on the win over the Bannsiders.
"I said to the players not to be patting anyone on the back and don't be celebrating," he said.
"It's now about what we do Tuesday night. If we can get two wins over the course of a couple of days when other teams aren't playing it will be considerable."