“I ATTENDED the launch of the Danske Bank Premiership with Sean Mackle in Belfast’s Waterfront Hall.
“It was basically a day of photographs for the press but also a chance to catch up on the gossip and transfer rumours around the Irish League.
“We opted to round off the launch with a trip to Nando’s for some grub.
“It was encouraging to see the support put in by Danske Bank as the official league backer, with Adidas on board as matchball sponsor.
“Talking to people from other teams you could get a sense of the level of expectation following clubs spending the summer strengthening the squads.
“As usual, however, it will be a case of trying to stop Linfield.
“The first round of games kicked off on Saturday and should be seen as a great advert for the domestic product.
“The season’s first upset arrived with Ballymena United’s defeat of Linfield.
“Any player or manager will tell you the importance of the season’s opening game, with the result more valuable than the performance.
“Therefore, it was great starting with three points against Lisburn Distillery and next up we have another hard game away to Donegal Celtic.
“I am sure we can count on our usual great support to cheer us on the road.
“Speaking as a player and fan, the Irish League has always been the subject of limited coverage or highlights in the past on the television.
“Therefore, it is great to see the Final Score 2 online programme put out by BBC Sport.
“It offers extended coverage and interviews and I think it is a much-needed step for the Irish League towards promoting the quality of the football and encouraging more supporters.
“I also know the online podcast called The Social Club NI covers everything related to Irish League football in a relaxed and enjoyable way by some of the journalists.
“I would like to wish Stephen Acheson all the best following his move to Loughgall.
“He is a very good young player who can only improve with regular first-team football.
“I have assured him we will take good care of a heartbroken Matthew Paget in his absence!
“Finally, most of you will be aware that Kevin Braniff recently signed a long-term deal with the club.
“This is a great bit of business for Portadown and Kevin, in my opinion, remains the most gifted player in the Irish League.”