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Carrick boss Harding takes no pleasure at seeing former club’s struggle

By Keith Bailie

You could forgive Kieran Harding if he accidentally sat down in the wrong dugout this afternoon.

After nearly two decades as Ronnie McFall’s assistant at Portadown, Harding will return to Shamrock Park as manager of Carrick Rangers.

Harding was an integral part of Portadown’s glory years, but now he is charged with keeping Carrick in the Premiership, possibly at the expense of his old club.

Despite the fact the two clubs are likely to be locked into a relegation battle, Harding takes no pleasure in seeing Portadown struggle. Since his departure from the club earlier this year, they have been hit with fines, a 12-point deduction and a court case.

Harding said; “I’m looking forward to seeing a few old friends, although it will be very strange going into the away dressing room.

 “I have some fantastic memories from my time at Portadown, so it pains me to see them in difficult situations.

“I’m saddened by the current situation. I certainly draw no pleasure from it. I would love to see Portadown back on even keel and competing near the top of the league because I think that’s what a club of that stature deserves.”

With Pat McGibbon’s new-look Portadown side trying to hunt down Harding’s Carrick, tomorrow’s game is vital for both sides.

Harding added:  “It’s a big game for both clubs even at this stage of the season. It’s an opportunity for us to set down a marker, however, I don’t think the result will define either team’s season.

“The result won’t dictate how the league table will look in April, as there are another 30 games to be played, but it is a great opportunity to put points on the board.”

 After a busy summer, Harding is pleased to see the back of the transfer window. With the likes of Aaron Harmon, Kyle Cherry, Aaron Smyth and Ben Roy leaving the club, the former Portadown man had the challenging task of rebuilding the Carrick squad.

 “I’m glad the transfer is closed because I now know what I have to work with, and I can focus on getting the best of out of that squad.

“When I arrived, we had lost seven or eight first team players, while we struggled to attract replacements because we didn’t know what division we would be playing in until the end of June.

“Bringing new players in has been really challenging. It’s been a frantic, testing experience, and I’m glad it’s over.

“I’m happy with the squad I’ve put together. We have the smallest budget in the league, but I think we have done well with that budget. It’s now up to me to make it work.”

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