Pre-match nerves gave way to post-match pride for Portadown head coach, Richard Hedley on Saturday.
A 25-7 success at Chambers Park against Dromore handed Portadown the perfect start to this season’s Championship One campaign.
A positive pre-season provided Hedley with cause for optimism ahead of the opening fixture - but the fine margins between friendly progress and competitive points served to create some first-game tension.
“I was pleased with everything over the close-season period and confident in the squad,” said Hedley. “However, until you get that first game out of the way in the league it is impossible to know what you have in the group.
“We put in a good performance against Dromore, got the win and can now move forward in the right frame.
“You think about the squad’s potential but that does not always translate on to the pitch in any club and that is why we are so pleased with the result.
“We had a few difficult moments but, on the whole, it was a game I think the players enjoyed in excellent playing conditions.”
Hedley is keen to send out his squad on matchdays in a positive mindset ready to relish the chance to represent the club.
“You want everyone to enjoy how they play and I believe the squad has the quality to do that this season,” said Hedley. “It is about having the confidence and character to trust in moving the ball around the pitch.
“You need that mix of youth and experience and we will continue to blood teenagers over the course of this season.
“Craig Woods was excellent last weekend but we had some strong individual performances from so many other players.
“It is about thinking on a long-term basis for the club overall but, certainly, the way we played was really encouraging.”
Portadown visit Enniskillen tomorrow (Saturday) for what should provide a rapid reunion with last season’s Chambers Park captain, James Carlton.
“I am pleased with the depth in our squad and the options open, with competition for places a big part of any progress we can make together,” said Hedley. “It is also going to be interesting to have the older players pass on advice and set the example for the younger lads coming into the set-up.
“It should help keep everyone sharp.”