Belfast Telegraph

Tipton determined to awaken one of Irish League's 'biggest clubs' after Portadown appointment

By Gareth Hanna

The size of a football club is something based on much more than simply league positions.

That can perhaps go some way to explaining why Matthew Tipton would swap a club likely to stay in the Premiership for one unlikely to escape the Championship this season.

Some may raise an eyebrow at the prospect of Tipton and his staff swapping Warrenpoint for Portadown - but for the former Ports striker, it was a simple decision to leave the Point hotseat and take the reins at Shamrock Park.

"Portadown are one of the biggest clubs in the country," he reasoned. "I have had offers to go to other clubs but turned them down because I felt I was working at something at Warrenpoint that I thought I could continue. Opportunities don't come around often and I didn't want to miss this opportunity."

One look at the two clubs' honours lists helps to explain - Portadown boast four Irish League crowns and have won three Irish Cups across a rich history dating back to 1887.

Warrenpoint's highest accolades in their 31 year existence are the Championship and Mid-Ulster Cup successes, both overseen by the man in question.

Then there's also the fact that Tipton - even more so his backroom team of ex Ports keeper David Miskelly and boyhood Portadown supporter Chris Wright - has an undoubted affinity with the Mid-Ulster side. He scored 30 Premiership goals during 18 months as a Ports player in 2011 and 2012.

"If it wasn't for Portadown I wouldn't be in Northern Ireland," said the Welshman. "It's a club that is close to my heart.

"From a purely selfish point of view I didn't want to see someone else take this club where they want to be. I want to be that manager and believe I can bring success here.

"Even taking the emotional attachment out of it, this is a job I would have wanted."

Tipton knows how to lead a club out of the Championship - he won the division only last season with Warrenpoint - and he concedes finding a path into the top tier can't come soon enough.

"Without a doubt I'll miss going to the likes of Windsor, the Oval and Mourneview Park but that will be used as motivation," he said. "You'd be stupid not to want to play at all the best grounds." Manager and board agree that promotion is nigh on impossible this season, with the club now seven points off the play-off places with seven games left to play.

But the agreement is there that that's okay - manager and board were at pains to stress this appointment is the beginning of a long-term project. And if any club in the Irish League can claim to know the meaning of a long-term appointment, Ronnie McFall's former employer is the one.

If Tipton lasts even half of the 29 years McFall spent at the Shamrock Park helm, chances are he'll have awoken one of the Irish League's biggest clubs.

Meanwhile, first-team coach Stephen McDonnell has been handed the interim manager's role with Warrenpoint.

The 25-year-old is the youngest manager in charge in the top flight by some distance. The Dundalk man, who had to retire from playing due to health concerns, only completed his UEFA 'A' Licence last week. Point chairman Connaire McGreevy said: "He has his chance to stake a claim for the job on a full-time basis if he can keep the side in the Premiership.

"He gets to cut his teeth a bit and we get a bit of breathing space in terms of looking at what we do going forward."

McDonnell added: "I will do everything in my power to keep Warrenpoint Town in the Premiership."

Belfast Telegraph

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