Ciaran McGurgan the third Irish League addition from Portadown’s ‘Golden Mile’

The Tandragee Road in Portadown has been affectionately labelled ‘The Golden Mile’ by some football fans given the area is called home by no fewer than three Irish League managers within a short stretch.
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Two - Ciaran McGurgan and Dean Smith - each walked the short distance to Annagh United’s BMG Arena last Saturday lunchtime hoping to return a few hours later with a fourth win and maximum start to the Championship season.

McGurgan is following the path of both his weekend counterpart Smith and the third of the trio, Dundela boss Niall Currie, in gaining a first taste of life in management with Annagh.

Having helped guide the club back into the Irish League’s second tier last year, McGurgan admits excitement at the opportunity to build on that initial season of stability.

Annagh United manager Ciaran McGurganAnnagh United manager Ciaran McGurgan
Annagh United manager Ciaran McGurgan

“After last season we felt we needed that bit more experience - last year it was probably why we didn’t get there in the end...not being clever enough in certain circumstances to see out games,” he said. “It was a big learning curve and one of the big things was how you get punished if you switch off or don’t take your chances.

“We can learn from that for this year.

“We felt last year Stevie (Murray) was making channel runs so thought to try him out there and over the last few months of last season he was absolutely brilliant, so we kept him in that position.

“Everybody has to want to win a league...last year was completely different as we had to find our feet.

“But we’ve realised we are not that far away from challenging and certainly this year we want to be up at the top.

“There’s a lot of quality in this league so we will not get ahead of ourselves and will take each game as it comes.”

Annagh took the lead thanks to Ryan Moffatt before a penalty kick from Nathaniel Ferris left the division’s two leading sides with honours even at 1-1.

“I think a draw was a fair result...we were much better in the first half then they came out strong in the second,” said McGurgan. “I’ve no complaints over the Loughgall penalty but felt we should have had one in the first half.

“You are now sitting four games undefeated with 10 points, which you would have taken all day long if offered at the start of the season.”