Belfast Telegraph

New boy Finnegan keen to leave rivals in wake as Portadown eye promotion

 

By Steven Beacom

Portadown's latest signing Paul Finnegan says the club face ten Cup finals in their bid to win promotion to the Danske Bank Premiership.

Finnegan joined Matthew Tipton's team from Championship leaders Larne on a two-and-a-half year deal earlier this week and while his former club are primed to play in the top flight next season, the centre back is determined that his new club achieves the same.

Last weekend's games in the Championship were the final batch of matches before the split in the division. It proved to be an exciting day with Ballinamallard leapfrogging Loughgall and Ballyclare to take their place in the top half.

Looking at the fixtures, this weekend promises to be even better. Larne host second-placed Carrick Rangers with Tiernan Lynch's team out for revenge after Niall Currie's side defeated them 2-0 last month.

Just as intriguing is the match up at Shamrock Park between third-placed Portadown and Dundela, who are just two points behind their opponents and three adrift of Carrick.

"Every game we play now is a Cup final and I feel we can push on for promotion," said Finnegan. "When I signed, Matthew talked to me about how he wants to move the club forward. Portadown is full of technical players and I'm looking forward to being part of the squad and playing games."

Finnegan's arrival could be a clever move from Tipton who admits that not gaining promotion this term would be a failure.

The Ports boss, however, is not considering that, believing his players can go up through the play-offs.

Ballinamallard may be thinking the same thing after a stunning move into the top six. A few months ago they were staring relegation in the face. Inspired by manager Harry McConkey they are now just nine points behind Carrick, and with some of the clubs ahead of them sure to drop points on Saturday, the Fermanagh outfit will be out to take advantage away to fifth-placed Harland & Wolff Welders.

In the bottom half, Loughgall and Ballyclare will be licking their wounds at Lakeview Park while PSNI take on Knockbreda.

The biggest match in this section is between the bottom two, Limavady United and Dergview. It pits Sean Friars against Ivan Sproule in the dug-outs and is crucial to who will be relegated at the end of the campaign.

Limavady are a point ahead and after the disappointment of their North West Cup final against Institute on Tuesday being postponed by weather, they will hope this one goes ahead.

Saturday's Bluefin Sport Championship fixtures: H&W Welders v Ballinamallard United, Loughgall v Ballyclare, PSNI v Knockbreda (all 2pm), Larne v Carrick, Limavady United v Dergview, Portadown v Dundela (all 3pm).

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