Belfast Telegraph

Portadown will pull together to get through tough times: Connolly

 

By Graham Luney

Portadown goalkeeper John Connolly says he hopes the club can weather a financial storm and win its fight for survival.

Board members have admitted the club faces considerable debts and revenue has slumped following the team's relegation from the Danke Bank Premiership earlier this year.

The Ports, who last season were hit with several fines and points deductions for administrative breaches, including a 12-point deduction for irregular payments to players, say they need "additional income streams" as they address historical debt.

Connolly, who faces a long road back to fitness after suffering a ruptured achilles, said: "It's a tough one for me as I've been away from the club recovering from injury but I hope the club will be okay and I'm confident it will.

"I would expect the Portadown fans and football community to pull together so they can get through this difficult time.

"Hopefully, more people will come through the gates, everyone can stand together and get the club back where it belongs, in the Premier League."

Connolly also shared his shock at the passing of his former comrade Paul Straney. The 42-year-old from Downpatrick, who made 179 appearances for Cliftonville, passed away suddenly last Thursday.

"I was devastated by the news," said Connolly who had an eight-year association with the Reds.

"In my first year there he was still the goalkeeper before he became coach. I'm still in complete shock to be honest. Paul was one of the nicest and most genuine guys you could meet. If he had anything to say he would say it to you and people appreciated that.

"When I was at Cliftonville they used to put the shirts down, numbered one to 11, in the changing room but I never felt I had done enough to earn the right to sit in his number one position so I sat between David McAlinden and Declan O'Hara. It was a decision I took out of respect to Paul."

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