The distance between Kernan Playing Fields and Shamrock Park is measured by more than the miles on map.
For young players on the books at Portadown, progress from the thirds up to the senior ranks remains the goal but a target wrapped up in a string of question marks and outside factors.
Saturday’s programme provided inspiration towards achieving that ambition.
A 5-1 defeat of Ballyclare Comrades Colts secured title success for the under 19s in NIFL Youth League Section B. A few hours later, Portadown wrapped up the Danske Bank Premiership campaign with a matchday squad that included eight players eligible for that morning fixture.
The balance between individual development and the merits of team success can prove difficult to achieve but the past few seasons have provided evidence of progress on both fronts.
Marcio Soares, Shea Conaty, Jordan Lyttle, Christian Stewart, Jake Richardson, Paudy Judge, Chris Ferguson and Mark Whitten were each selected by senior manager Ronnie McFall based on a rise up the club system across the thirds and reserves.
The players have been superb, especially in crucial games across the past few weeks to get us over that lineChris Wright
Trophy success last season in the Harry Cavan Youth Challenge Cup helped to provide crucial experience for many of the players currently connected to the senior squad. Chris Wright, manager of Portadown thirds, considers Saturday’s title victory another important stepping stone.
“For the bigger picture, in terms of the club overall, then we must be playing in section A of the NIFL Youth League,” said Wright. “That is the priority for us and the club.
“However, for the players who have put so much into this season, it is a brilliant reward to finish with a league winner’s medal and that taste of success can only help.
“The players have been superb, especially in crucial games across the past few weeks to get us over that line.
“From a personal viewpoint, I owe a debt of thanks to my assistant, Andrew Topley.
“Also the support from the reserves and firsts is a massive boost for everyone.”