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Kelly has faith in Portadown’s title hopes

Darren Kelly believes 90 per cent of local football followers would bet against Portadown making a charge for the Carling Premiership title — but that doesn’t stop the Shamrock Park defender targeting a trophy treble.

The Ports are in eighth place in the league, 15 points off the pace and they face Glentoran in the semi-finals of the Co-operative Insurance Cup next month.

The focus tonight though is on the JJB Sports Irish Cup, when Portadown attempt to see off Carrick Rangers, having been taken to a replay by the Championship 1 side in Saturday’s 1-1 draw at Taylor’s Avenue.

And having lifted the Cup with the Ports five years ago, Kelly is hungry to get his hands on local football’s premier knockout trophy once again.

“I came back to Portadown to win things and the quality is there in our squad to do that,” said Kelly.

“I’m not giving up on winning the title this season. I would say that 90 per cent of people would rule us out of it and the other 10 per cent are connected to Portadown, but we’ve been on a good run, we’re playing with confidence and the ambition is there.

“Certainly next season I’ve been told that there will be investment in the squad and that the league will be our target.

“This season it would be fantastic if we could win a couple of cups, not just one.”

Stephen Small was in the Larne team that lost to the Ports in that 2005 final when Kelly won his only previous medal in Northern Ireland and his team will still believe they have a chance of pulling off an upset — particularly as they had the Ports rocking on Saturday.

“Carrick came at us in the first 15 minutes and after we lost Kevin Braniff we were keen to get to half-time and re-group,” said Kelly.

“We responded and had the chances to win it. We’re at home now and it’ll be up to us to attack.”

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The Ports last night completed the signing of former Northern Ireland under-21 international Owen Morrison on a short-term contract until the end of the season.

Morrison, now 28-years-old, has played domestic football in England, Scotland and the Republic of Ireland and will give boss Ronnie McFall an extra option on the flanks, but is not eligible to face Carrick Rangers tonight.

Belfast Telegraph