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Paul Doolin back at Windsor Park hoping for 2007 Setanta magic to help Portadown

Fourteen years on from one of his biggest career highs, Paul Doolin returns to Windsor Park this weekend aiming to rescue Portadown from one of the club’s lowest points.

Doolin, now in his fourth week as successor to Matthew Tipton in the Ports management hot-seat, heads to Belfast aiming to upset defending Premiership champions Linfield and revive his squad’s fight against relegation.

A goal and point against 10-man Glentoran mark the highlights of Doolin’s time to date back at a Portadown club he served so well in the 1990s as a celebrated player.

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With the clock working against Doolin’s rescue mission, he heads back to the scene of that 2007 triumph as Drogheda United boss in the Setanta Sports Cup final aiming for another memorable win over Linfield.

Paul Doolin celebrates Setanta Sports Cup success in 2007 with Drogheda United at Windsor Park. Pic by Pacemaker.

“This will be my first time back at Windsor Park since that Setanta Sports Cup final win with Drogheda,” said Doolin. “To become the first League of Ireland club to win the Setanta prize in only its second year, then make it back-to-back wins by beating Linfield - the trophy’s 2005 inaugural winners - was a great memory.

“I remember so much about that day...Windsor Park is steeped in football history and I’m looking forward to getting a look at the ground following the redevelopments.

“Of course, the focus is on Portadown and it’s another tough game for us - but every game is a tough test.

“I’ve been in now for five games as manager, four officially in the dug-out, with six fixtures left to play before the split.

“We are working hard in training but it has been tough trying to get that settled side in place.

“Injuries don’t help but also suspensions have been too much of an issue so far....we cannot afford to be losing players for any reason.

“You always aim to get a settled side out on the pitch but since I arrived we’ve spent a lot of time chopping and changing.

“We need to meet the challenge head-on.

“With signings coming in during the January transfer window and midweek fixtures, it’s difficult to get lots of ideas across in training.

“But we can look at the table and see the situation...we need wins.

“Really, under the circumstances, it comes down more to belief than ideas at this point.

“We need to defend well and score goals but a look at the statistics shows we’ve not been doing either well enough.

“But we have seen positives in performances against Coleraine and Glentoran and the second half last weekend against Glenavon.

“With time running out we cannot afford to be playing half-games and everyone needs to take responsibility.

“Last weekend against Glenavon the first two goals scored came off set-pieces and when the corner-kicks come in we need individuals to take command.

“The responsibility is on everyone when the ball hits that six-yard area, it doesn’t matter if you are operating on a man-marking system or zonal, you need to attack the ball and do your job in the moment.

“So in this situation we need to get back to basics and toughen up mentally and physically.”

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