Friendly fixture offers chance to renew friendship with Armagh

Richard Hedley.
Richard Hedley.

Portadown’s weekend Qualifying League campaign has become a victim to the weather despite a blank schedule for the seniors last Saturday.

Richard Hedley and his players had a free date in the programme last weekend, with the training focus on a test with Instonians at Chambers Park planned for tomorrow (Saturday).

However, widespread postponements last week have led to alterations to the forthcoming fixture list and Instonians’ attention must now turn to a cup semi-final.

Portadown officials responded at pace to rearrange a date for the weekend and now Armagh will step out at Chambers Park in a welcome return to the derby rivalry.

“It has been maybe four years since Portadown and Armagh played each other, so I am expecting it to be reasonably competitive irrespective of the match listed as a friendly,” said Hedley, the Chambers Park head coach. “Both clubs were keen to get in a game before the Christmas break and circumstances left us unable to meet Instonians due to the cup gaining priority over league play in the aftermath of last weekend’s postponements.

“It is a shame as Instonians’ visit to Chambers Park would have attracted a big crowd and really helped the club financially.

“However, there is plenty of appeal to the Armagh match and a great chance to renew long-standing links between the clubs.”

Portadown visit Limavady on Saturday, January 2 in the Towns’ Cup - with the next home date set for January 9.

“It was important to fit in a match, especially as we are coming off the back of a poor performance,” said Hedley. “The friendly will allow us to offer plenty of players a chance and we hope to field a squad of 22 or 23 with rolling subs.

“It will help us prepare for the New Year games.

“Once we hit January, the fixtures will arrive thick and fast up until the middle of March, if we can make decent cup progress.

“The plan is also to have Tuesday training sessions around the Christmas holidays just to keep us ticking over before January.

“In fairness, the players would be good at staying in shape outside of training but it is good to keep everyone together.”

Play will start at 2.30 at Chambers Park.