Ronnie McFall leads his Portadown team back into the Setanta Sports Cup tonight believing that they can succeed opponents Bohemians as all-Ireland champions.
The Shamrock Park men have been in great form since early January and Saturday’s 1-0 defeat at the hands of Crusaders brought an 11-match unbeaten run to an end.
Add in the fact the transfer window signings Garry Breen, Brian Gartland, Alan Cawley and Matthew Tipton know all about League of Ireland football and the Ports will head to Dalymount Park tonight confident that they can make their mark in the competition — and even win it.
“I don’t see why we can’t win the competition,” said McFall (pictured) — who won the all-Ireland Texaco Cup as a player with the Ports in the 1970s.
“Linfield have won it in the past and both them and Glentoran have come close as well. I don’t see why an Irish League club can’t win it.
“Why not? We’ve had some good results in the competition in the past. We went down to Cork and won with 10 men and there’s nothing to suggest we can’t repeat that.
“It was different when it was in groups, you could get one or two good results but it still wouldn’t be enough, whereas now if you click on the night you can set yourself up to progress.”
While the Ports are facing Bohs for the first time, Cliftonville also head to Dublin, but with a 3-0 advantage over St Patrick’s Athletic from last week’s first leg.
Reds boss Eddie Patterson wants a goal to all but secure their progress to the next stage.
“There have been plenty of matches recently where teams have come back from 3-0 and 4-0 down at half-time, so if those deficits can be turned around in 45 minutes, there's no doubting that St Pat's can get themselves back into this tie in 90,” said Patterson.
“It won't be a case of putting 11 men behind the ball. We have the advantage of having kept a clean sheet at home so, if we can put the ball in the net in Dublin, St Pat's will need at least five to beat us.
“That's got to be our incentive.”