Quarter-finals the prize thanks to home joy for Hedley’s squad

Rab Reid pushing forward at Chambers Park as Portadown work towards a quarter-final reward.
Rab Reid pushing forward at Chambers Park as Portadown work towards a quarter-final reward.

League form has been the traditional January focus in Richard Hedley’s time as head coach at Portadown but this season could still become defined by cup glory.

Portadown’s Qualifying League campaign has faltered as a result of a squad in transition.

However, the Towns’ Cup remains a target for the town seniors and Saturday’s 35-11 defeat of Dromore has left Portadown facing a quarter-final tie away to Ballymena seconds on February 14.

Last weekend’s Chambers Park cup clash was highlighted as a must-win affair by Hedley and Portadown eventually got over the line despite some difficult periods.

Hedley considers continued knockout hurdles as opportunities to test the development on the training field in a high-stakes environment.

“We have a few league games between now and Ballymena, starting this weekend away to Donaghadee,” said Hedley. “We want to build momentum and go into the quarter-final with confidence.

“Against Dromore we made a few errors and created problems as a result, however, overall it was about the result and getting into the next round.

“In my time at this club our focus has often been on the league around this time of year.

“It is a different scenario this season but we highlighted the Towns’ Cup as a target before the start of the season and the experiences can only help this squad develop.

“We are looking to achieve the correct balance between different styles of rugby in different situations.

“You could see there was a buzz after the match within the club and we now need to use this time to work on certain areas.

“It is about bringing on the younger players, keeping up those hunger levels and that desire to improve as a group.

“Training helps and, of course, we want league wins too but the extra buzz of a one-off cup tie can really push us on.”