Summer work moved up a level last week as the area’s three Irish League clubs progressed closer to the start of the competitive season on August 8.
Portadown, Annagh United and Loughgall each took part in a string of friendly fixtures - with seven games across a six-day period.
Darren Murray walked away from Portadown appearances against Lurgan Celtic and Harland and Wolff Welders having scored five goals.
The striker, who had an official transfer request turned down by club officials before the start of the pre-season friendlies, proved sharp in front of goal.
Another leading Ports player was teenager Jake Richardson.
Richardson made his senior debut for the Shamrock Park club last season and has been consistent along the right flank this summer with a number of assists.
Chris Ramsey, who has been handed minutes as an emergency left-back due to Ross Redman’s injury issues, converted a Chris Casement corner-kick against Celtic.
Gary Twigg was the other scorer in a 5-1 defeat of a Celtic side that featured former Portadown players such as Jamie McArdle, Josh Barton and Aaron Haire.
Murray added to his tally on Saturday with a quickfire brace to see off the Welders. Casement ended the first half by curling home a free-kick and Peter McMahon joined play as a substitute before slotting home Robert Garrett’s pass.
The Ports’ final friendly is planned for tomorrow (Saturday) at Tandragee Road against Annagh United from 3 o’clock.
Annagh United’s schedule included a 2-0 defeat to top-flight Dungannon Swifts last Thursday before two squads spent the weekend in Newcastle. The fitness camp and friendly programme included games against St Patrick’s YM and Tollymore United, with the firsts recording a 3-1 win over the Saints and reserves level at 1-1 in the other fixture.
Tuesday’s meeting with Mid-Ulster Football League-based Broomhill ended in a scoreless draw. Annagh were scheduled to take on Mid-Ulster’s Intermediate champions, Tandragee Rovers, last night (Thursday).
Loughgall’s Matt McMahon has enjoyed the benefits of his advanced midfield role this summer by proving a regular on the scoresheet.
McMahon finished with a brace on Saturday in the 4-4 draw with Magherafelt Sky Blues. Bill Morrow and Wesley Boyle were the other scorers for Loughgall.
The Villagers were booked in to meet Mid-Ulster Football League’s St Mary’s last night (Thursday) at Lakeview Park before tomorrow’s (Saturday’s) visit by Linfield from 1 o’clock.
Linfield will also meet Hanover at Brownstown Park on Tuesday from 7.15.