It was a case of derby delight for Dungannon Swifts as a six-goal rout over struggling Portadown rewarded the Stangmore Park outfit for an assured team performance.
Chris Hegarty was one of six separate names on the scoresheet for the slick Swifts. The defender may have taken greater satisfaction from the clean sheet than a first goal in Dungannon colours but the hosts’ attacking edge served up plenty of cheer for fans.
“The goal is nice to get and I’ve been looking for it for the last while, but to keep a clean sheet was very, very important,” he said. “We’ve set ourselves a goal of getting as many clean sheets as possible this season.
“The back four and goalkeeper, as a unit, we target clean sheets.
“For me that is more important than scoring a goal.
“It’s always nice to come up with one or two now and then, but for me the clean sheet was more important.”
Hegarty and David Armstrong, his partner in the heart of the Swifts backline, each grabbed goals alongside a Douglas Wilson free-kick, Terry Fitzpatrick header, close-range Cormac Burke drive and last-gasp strike from Andrew Mitchell.
From a Portadown perspective, the afternoon to forget proved another setback in the battle against relegation for the Shamrock Park outfit.
The Ports kicked off the Danske Bank Premiership season with a 12-point deduction imposed on the club by the Irish Football Association due to issues over the contract status of Peter McMahon.
McMahon, who left Shamrock Park as a free agent in the summer, stepped off the Swifts substitutes’ bench for his Dungannon debut and came close to adding to his former club’s misery but squandered a promising position.
McMahon’s presence on the Swifts teamsheet was a reminder of the wait for a final ruling by the IFA Appeals’ Board on the 12-point deduction and potential suspension of all football activities connected to payment of disciplinary fines.
On-going problems away from the pitch have disrupted plans by Portadown to rebuild the squad and a decision is expected early this week on both outstanding appeals.
Personal circumstances prevented Ports boss Pat McGibbon from taking charge on Saturday, with assistant manager Vinny Arkins and coach Trevor Williamson in control.
“The players tried but the quality was not there and we gave the ball away, plus contributed to our own downfall by making mistakes and the wrong decisions,” said Arkins. “Although I do not want to use the off-the-field situation as any excuse for Saturday, overall, the lack of clarification does not help.
“I am hoping that proves to be rock-bottom as that means the only way is up from here now.”
Dungannon Swifts assistant manager Terry McCrory picked out the positive response to the team’s previous defeat to Ballinamallard United.
“I am absolutely delighted with how we played,” he said. “The guys were obviously very disappointed after last week’s performance and the most important thing was to bounce back.
“It was a fantastic performance all over the park against a Portadown side that had done very well against Glenavon the previous week.”