McCullough pleased with summer additions to Shamrock Park reserves

Gary McCullough.
Gary McCullough.

Gary McCullough is hoping summer arrivals can add extra experience to this season’s NIFL Reserve League campaign.

Title success for the club’s thirds has led to promotion into NIFL Youth League Section A and the target is greater balance across the under 19s and reserves to protect player development.

Key to that plan could prove signings such as Portugal-born pair Bruno Montero and Tiago Ferreira alongside Matthew Parker from Linfield Swifts.

Greater strength-in-depth for the reserves will give those youth players promoted up to the second-string squad the best possible platform on which to showcase ability.

“Having a few older heads around the group will help us get the balance right so that anyone called up from below should find it easier as part of a stronger team,” said McCullough. “It is still about player development and, hopefully, factors such as new faces and the fixture list giving us midweek games can help the thirds in section A.

“Caolan Skelton, Pauddy Judge and Mark Whitten are now too old for youth football and Matthew Parker is 20 years old.

“Bruno is around the same age and Tiago in his mid-20s, with both doing well since coming to the club.

“Fifteen-year-old David Ringland was in nets and we had some younger players in the panel against Crusaders on Saturday so it is about the best possible balance.”

Ferreira scored a penalty kick and a fine individual effort as the reserves came back from deficits on two occasions before falling to a 4-2 reverse at Shamrock Park.

“We worked hard and proved competitive against a decent Crusaders side,” said McCullough. “I would like to have seen us pass the ball better but we were up against a more settled group.

“It was encouraging to see the work-rate on show and how we coped physically.

“Certainly those older lads will benefit everyone over the season.”

PORTADOWN RESERVES: David Ringland, Joel Copes, Mark Whitten John Gibson, Matthew Parker, Chris Ferguson, Bruno Montero, Pauddy Judge, Joel Richardson, Adam Brown, Tiago Ferreira. Subs: Daniel Robb, Lee Bonis, Peter Mulholland.

The reserves visit Cliftonville on Wednesday.