By Shaun Casey
TÍR NA NÓG didn’t exactly secure promotion by beating Belleek last Sunday, but they took a massive step towards Division 2A football next season.
Their victory over promotion rivals Belleek means that a win this weekend over Crossmaglen IIs will result in them going up, while Belleek host Culloville in a winner-takes-all clash on the final day of the campaign.
“It was a massive win,” said Paul Carvill, who missed the game through injury. “We knew today we had to get a win, we had to get a result otherwise it would have put it straight into the hands of Culloville and Belleek next weekend.
“It took huge energy and our boys left everything on the pitch to get the win and there’s definitely a good buzz around the club at the minute.”
The Portadown men were relegated from Division 2A last season, losing all their games, but have come back stronger.
“We were beaten in every match last year and for young players coming through and older players questioning whether or not to come back, it was going to take a huge effort but fair play to the boys that have done it.
“Going back to the winter months and preseason, training hard, it’s all worth it today for those boys getting a good win, but it’s unfinished business.
“There’s no point in going and getting a good win like today and then losing next week so it’s all to play for.
“There’s nothing to be taken for granted in this league and there’s nothing to be taken for granted when you’re playing Crossmaglen Rangers, that’s for sure. Those two teams (Culloville and Belleek) will be going hell for leather next weekend.
“We’ll definitely give it a go. We’ve worked this hard to get this far and we just want to get over the final hurdle and win next weekend.”
They were minus a few star players against Belleek. Former county minors Oisin Conaty, who plays for Portadown FC in the NIFL Premiership, and the injured Leo Monteiro along with Tom Weir should be back for the final round.
With championship just around the corner, Carvill insisted Tír na nÓg will only focus on one game at a time.
“They’re massive losses to any team, there’s no two ways about it but it shows some character from our lads to step in there, boys that are coming back from injury coming on today, it’s always going to take 25 players at least to win a league or to do anything like that.
“Those players are all big players for us, they’re back in next week and there’s some competition for players this week in training.
“We have Wolfe Tones in a north-Armagh derby (in the championship) so it’s going to be a massive game but as the old cliché goes, we can only take it one game at a time. We’re only focused on next weekend.
“If we don’t win next weekend, we’ll probably see our season as a bit of a failure, so we’ll be focusing on that all week and that’s what we’re looking forward to.”