The most eagerly awaited match in the on-going history of Mid-Ulster football is just two days away now with a sell-out crowd heading to Shamrock Park on Boxing Day for the latest edition of the saga. Gary Hamilton will be hoping to change the amazing statistic that Portadown has not lost a Boxing Day derby at Shamrock Park since 1967!

“I’ve always said teams are dangerous when they get a new manager. Players are fighting for their places in the team, they’re fighting to stay at the club, so of course they’re going to lift it,” Gary told this website.

“We know, on paper, Portadown’s a decent team. They might have started the season on minus 12 points but they’ve got a lot of good players, in fact compared to the other bottom teams they’ve got as good a squad if not better than them all. We know they’re going to perform, we know they’re good players but we have to make sure that we turn up with that attitude that we did against Crusaders last weekend.

“If we do that and show the same energy levels then we’ve a chance of winning the game but it can’t go back to what it was against Carrick (in the League Cup semifinal), when we met a bottom side and maybe think it’s only a matter of turning up. Football doesn’t work like that. We’ve been stung already once and we don’t want to be stung again in the Boxing Day derby. We want to put in a good performance, get a good result for the fans and hopefully we can do that.”

A Kevin Braniff goal settled the last game 1-0 in favour of Glenavon back at the beginning of October at Mourneview Park.

It’s 1-0! Kevin Braniff scores the winner in the last encounter. Photo by Alan Weir.

In the last ten league meetings at Shamrock Park Portadown has won five, Glenavon has won one and the other four ended as draws. The last Boxing Day derby at Shamrock Park was in 2014 and ended in a thrilling 3-3 draw, the Lurgan Blues coming from behind three times for a hard-earned point. Eoin Bradley netted a last-gasp penalty to add to his first half equaliser. Ciaran Caldwell scored the other Glenavon goal with Mark McAllister bagging a double after Darren Murray had opened the scoring for the Ports.

Match Officials

Referee Assistant 1 Assistant 2 4th Official
Raymond Crangle Andrew Neeson Mark O’Brien Paul Burns

NIFL has produced a video that captures what Irish League supporters think of the Boxing Day games.