Winning response the call after weekend disaster at Donaghadee

Chambers Park provided the venue for Saturday's All-Ireland Junior Cup final between Bangor and Dundalk. Mark Crozier (second left, Portadown president) offered a warm welcome to, from left, Ashley Armstrong (Bangor president), Louis Magee (IRFU president) and Larry Steen (Dundalk president). Pic by Matthew Wickham.
Chambers Park provided the venue for Saturday's All-Ireland Junior Cup final between Bangor and Dundalk. Mark Crozier (second left, Portadown president) offered a warm welcome to, from left, Ashley Armstrong (Bangor president), Louis Magee (IRFU president) and Larry Steen (Dundalk president). Pic by Matthew Wickham.

Richard Hedley is calling for an immediate response to last weekend’s 48-0 disaster at Donaghadee when struggling Portadown visit Bangor tomorrow (Saturday).

A run of five consecutive Qualifying League defeats has left Portadown stuck in what Hedley, the head coach, describes as “relegation form” - with the latest blank on the road considered a rock-bottom display.

“It was the worst performance I can ever remember from any side I have coached,” said Hedley. “It was just dreadful.

“I can never remember losing a game 48-0, especially against a side struggling at the bottom.

“You do not become a bad team overnight and other defeats this season have come down to certain margins.

“Now it is a case of looking to the next stage and we must produce this weekend away to Bangor.

“Our only chance of silverware this season rests with the Towns’ Cup but we cannot ignore the league and our run of form demands a turnaround.

“It is incredible that this group of players has lost five league games on the bounce but Donaghadee simply wanted it more on Saturday.

“We were down by 15-0 at half-time and the objective was to improve in the second half, especially our tackling.

“However, it finished 48-0 and we just seemed to fold.

“This squad should be considered top-four quality but, on current form, we seem more likely to be heading in the other direction.

“It now comes down to the fact that we a need a reaction.”

The Towns’ Cup quarter-final trip to Ballymena next weekend maintains the opportunity for success this season and Hedley can lift some encouragement from previous knockout ties.

“We recently performed so well against Dromore in a comfortable Towns’ Cup win,” he said. “That is the same group of players and we produced good rugby and scored good tries.

“We cannot afford to go into the Towns’ Cup quarter-final off another heavy defeat but, irrespective, we must make amends this weekend.”