IRISH LEAGUE: McCullough takes over key Portadown role

Neil McCullough.
Neil McCullough.

Portadown will enter the Championship Development League with a fresh management structure following the decision by boss Gary McCullough to step down.

The former Irish League player and assistant manager has spent the past five seasons working with Portadown’s reserves but will significantly reduce his role at that level to focus on the underage sides.

Gary McCullough.

Gary McCullough.

McCullough has been a key part of an internal development programme resulting in enhanced numbers climbing the ranks into senior football or earning professional contracts across the water. The change will allow him to further strengthen those links between youth and parent set-ups.

His successor as under 20s’ manager is also a name familiar to Portadown fans - with former first-team player and long-serving youth coach Neil McCullough stepping in.

Both cousins, of course, are members of a family with deep connections to football in the town across multiple generations and McCullough is relishing the opportunity to build on the growing reputation of Portadown as a place to encourage and enhance young talent.

“It is about continuing on the work put in by Gary and others as we are all really excited about the talent coming up the ranks,” said McCullough, who has played and managed at a wide range of levels across his career. “We are determined to create a professional environment despite relegation out of the senior level so have put together a team that includes Peter Mullan to stay on as coach, Noel Cowan to focus on player recruitment, David Todd working with goalkeepers and Mark Adamson as kit man.

“I coached players in the past who are now part of the firsts and have been with Portadown Youth across the past decade so know exactly what we have looking to follow that pathway into Irish League football or the professional game.

“I have known first-team manager Niall Currie a long time obviously as we are both from the town and both Portadown supporters so am looking forward to helping develop players for his squad.

“There are no guarantees in football, especially when talking about potential, but it is certainly an exciting period.”