Saturday 22nd April, Stangmore Park

Tense, thrilling and ultimately triumphant – the Swifts showed tremendous character in a titanic battle against Portadown to take a crucial step towards securing their Premiership place next season.

Dungannon had to take the lead three times to wrestle three crucial points from the visitors in a result which condemned their mid Ulster rivals to automatic relegation.

Dean Shields’ men now face the prospect of a two-game play-off against Championship runners-up Warrenpoint Town to extend their 20-year stay in the NIFL’s top tier.

It was the biggest game at Stangmore for several years and there was an atmosphere and attendance to match, with both sides roared on throughout by a huge support.

Having at one point been 15 points adrift at the foot of the table, Portadown had narrowed the gap to Dungannon to just two and hoped they could continue their Houdini act against a home side who’d collected just one point from their last three games.

However, it was the Swifts who looked the more confident team for much of the opening half, dominating possession and looking dangerous from set pieces.

Portadown got a warning after 19 minutes when a corner from James Knowles was headed onto the foot of the post by Cahal McGinty.

A minute later another perfect Knowles delivery saw Ethan McGee rise like a salmon and head into the corner to put Dungannon into a deserved lead.

The vocal home support in the corner of the ground were briefly celebrating again two minutes later when Jordan Jenkins hit the net, only for the offside flag to go up.

Portadown grew more into the game in the latter stages of the half, with Steven Scott perfectly positioned to head a Cathair Friel header off the line, but the score remained 1-0 at the half-time whistle. 

The home team were forced into two substitutions at the break, as Corey Smith and Mayowa Animasahun replaced the injured Marc Walsh and Caolan Marron.

And the second-half immediately saw a reversal in momentum, with Portadown starting to impose themselves much more on the game.

When the equaliser came it was from a familiar source – former Swifts man Paul McElroy had scored a hatrick in the last meeting at Shamrock Park and he levelled the tie on 58 minutes when he tapped in from close range after a deep cross was headed into his path by Lee Chapman.

Portadown’s tails were up and they set out in search of a second goal. However, Dungannon instead re-took the lead five minutes later when Jenkins burst past two Portadown defenders to collect a long clearance by Dean Curry and coolly slot the ball into the corner of the net.

If it looked like Portadown’s bubble had been burst, there was more drama to come just minutes later as McElroy equalised again.

A tame cross from the left found McElroy eight yards out and his snap shot struck the crossbar and rebounded off the back of keeper Declan Dunne to cross the line.

The game – and top-flight survival – was in the balance again but it was Dungannon who somehow summoned the spirit to find a winner.

Corey Smith had been tying Portadown defenders in knots each time he got on the ball on the left and when substitute Bruna fed him on the touchline with 10 minutes to go, he twisted and turned before sending a low ball into the box which was met by an unmarked Michael O’Connor to send the home fans delirious again.

Dungannon then withstood some inevitable late pressure, with Dunne batting the ball away from a close range connection from a corner in injury time to see out a famous victory.

Assuming the Swifts don’t beat Newry by 13 goals next weekend, they now enter a play-off against Warrenpoint on May 2 and 5 to keep their place in the Premiership.

Assistant manager Tony Gorman said there was a mixture of relief and joy after the game as the focus now shifts to the next big challenge.

Danske Bank Premiership,Stangmore park Dungannon. 22nd April 2023 Dungannon v Portadown Dungannon’s Michael OConnor celebrates scoring which sees Portadown relegated Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Stephen Hamilton

“The threat of relegation was hanging over us, and in such a pressure game and a big crowd and against a very difficult opponent, we’re delighted the boys have come out on top,” he said.

“I thought we started the game really well, the first half-hour. A wee bit disappointed we didn’t have a two-goal lead at half-time.

“The second half-then was one of those where Portadown just went for it because they were playing for their survival. We’re just delighted we’ve come out on top of a five-goal thriller.”

Full interview available to watch here:

Swifts: Dunne, Marron (Animasahun, 46), Knowles, Mayse (Bruna, 76), O’Connor, Curry, McGinty, Walsh, McGee, Jenkins (Moore, 83), Scott (O’Kane, 58). Subs: Nelson, O’Kane, Smith (Walsh, 76). Unused subs: Nelson, Lynch.

Portadown: Barr, Upton, Wilson, Russell (Balde, 80), Chapman, Archer, Rogers, McCawl (Igiehon, 90), Friel, McElroy, Walker (O’Sullivan, 56). Unused subs: Mastny, Stedman, Teggart, Jordan.

Referee: Tony Clarke

CONTRACT NEWS | Youth starlet receives improved deal

CONTRACT NEWS | Youth starlet receives improved deal

Northern Ireland U18 Youth International, Corey Smith, has been rewarded with an improved deal at Stangmore Park. Smith scored his first senior league goal on Friday night against Glenavon FC, after coming off the bench with 15 minutes to go.

Eighteen year old Smith has played regularly for Swift’s U20s when not on International duty and has a total of 9 first team appearances off the bench this season. He’s got one goal to his tally with hopefully lots more to come.

Follow the link to hear Manager Dean Shiels thoughts on Smith.

Smith himself is delighted to have signed an improved deal at Stangmore Park;

“It’s something that’s been on my radar for a while now. I enjoy being at the club and I’m up around the first team a lot more often now which is really good. My aim is to push on and be up with the first team and involved with the match day squad, week in and week out. This is something I’m really looking forward to doing.”

Corey Smith

Congratulations to Corey on this improved deal. We are really looking forward to seeing lots more of him in action in a Dungannon Swifts shirt.



Friday 24th February, Shamrock Park

Swifts manager Dean Shiels rued his side’s inconsistency after falling to a disappointing defeat against Portadown under Friday night lights at Shamrock Park.

Having impressed in a 2-0 win away to Newry the previous week, Dungannon had hoped to carry that momentum forward and widen the gap to their Mid Ulster rivals at the bottom of the league table.

Instead, Portadown’s second league win on the bounce and only third of the year leaves them eight points behind with a game in hand.

Shiels expressed his frustration at the below-par performance.

“I think as a whole we had a right go first part of the second half but in general it was really poor,” he said.

The first half in particular was a horror show for Shiels and the vocal away support, with the manager admitting the team were “very lucky” to go in just a goal down.

That goal came after only four minutes when Paul McElroy collected a low cross from the right and was able to swivel and shoot past Declan Dunne.

Just two minutes later there was a major let-off when the former Swifts man hit the post after a cross from the left found him unmarked just eight yards out.

Portadown later found the other post when Stephen Teggart flashed a ball from the byline across the goal and off the far upright.

There were several other close shaves during the half, including a good save by Dunne from a Teggart shot before half-time.

Dungannon’s closest effort was a shot from Michael O’Connor from near the half-way line which hit the side netting as Ports keeper Mastny scrambled back after clearing the ball.

The Swifts needed a big response in the second half and they were a transformed team right from the whistle, tackling like tigers and looking dangerous each time they went forward.

First O’Connor saw a goal-bound shot saved by Mastny at full stretch. Then Rhyss Campbell came agonisingly close, stretching to reach a superb Marc Walsh cross but hooking the ball just inches past the post.

After further pressure, Dungannon got what they deserved on 57 minutes when Campbell let a throw-in run past his body and crossed from the byline for Ethan McGee to fire in the equaliser.

As the players celebrated with the ecstatic away support, it seemed there was only one team now in the contest.

However, the momentum would shift again just minutes later when out of nothing, McElroy was found on the left-hand side of the box and his shot squeezed past Dunne at the near post.

The drama continued when referee Lee Tavinder awarded a penalty for a challenge by Dunne on Lee Upton, only for the offside flag to reverse the decision.

A minute later, it was the Swifts’ turn to hit the woodwork when Jordan Jenkins smashed the ball against the crossbar with just the keeper to beat.

However, the away team’s challenge fell away as the half continued and it was Portadown who began to look the more likely to score. Victory was secured in the final minutes when McElroy completed his hatrick from the penalty spot after being brought down by Caolan Coyle

Afterwards, Shiels said the team were too easy to play against in the first half.

“When we were attacking, every time we lost posession, the transition, they stuck it in behind us and they looked very threatening. We weren’t preparing to lose the ball,” he said.

“I knew we would get a reaction at half time. I felt we would come out and maybe create chances and we did that. At 1-1 we looked quite threatening and then we gave them a wee bit of momentum. We had full momentum and then that shifted by letting in a really poor goal defensively.”

He said inconsistency has been an issue across most of the season.

“At Newry we get a clean sheet, we never looked like conceding. We were so well organised defensively. And it’s the same team, I put trust in the same team that were so good at Newry and then so poor tonight. So it’s just inconsistency in the individals and then collectively,” he said.

Next up for Dungannon is an Irish Cup quarter-final against Cliftonville at Solitude, before returning to league action against Carrick back at Stangmore on 11th March.

PORTADOWN: Mastny, Rodgers, Upton, McKeown, Chapman, Wilson (Balde, 30, Stedman, 56), McCawl, Russell, Teggart, Friel (O’Sullivan, 76), McElroy. Unused subs: Barr, Igiehon, Jordan.

DUNGANNON: Dunne, Animasahun (Curry, 46), Bruna (Coyle, 43), Ruddy, Knowles, McGinty (McCready, 83), Campbell (Moore, 83), McGee, Walsh (Mayse, 68), Jenkins, O’Connor. Unused subs: Nelson, Smith.

Referee: Lee Tavinder

Man of the match: Paul McElroy

CONTRACT NEWS | Padraig turns Pro

CONTRACT NEWS | Padraig turns Pro

Congratulations to Padraig Lynch who has been rewarded, for all his hard work, with his first professional contract at Dungannon Swifts Football Club. This is fantastic news for the eighteen year old forward who is a very dedicated player.

“Since arriving through the doors of DUY indoor community programme as a 7 year old it didn’t take long for us to realise that Padraig was a talented young lad. He always had a great football brain and an eye for scoring all types of goals from those early days and this has continued right up until now as he has scored 30 goals already this season. We are delighted to see Padraig get his first professional contract with the club and I have no doubt that he will have a very good future ahead of him. “

Dixie Robinson

Congratulations Padraig, we wish you every success with your new contract.

TRANSFER NEWS | Deadline Day Signing for the Swifts

TRANSFER NEWS | Deadline Day Signing for the Swifts

Dungannon Swifts are proud to announce the loan signing of Jordan Jenkins from Glentoran FC until the end of the season.

Although Jordan is only 22 years of age, he brings with him the experience of over 100 appearances across spells at Carrick Rangers, Portadown, Glentoran and, a successful period, at Glenavon where he played in several Europa League qualifiers. Jordan also turned out for the Northern Ireland U19’s and has an international goal at that level.

Swifts fans can expect hard work, determination and a willingness to press opposition back lines, which makes Jenkins an ideal candidate to lead the line in the high pressing Dean Shiels’ system. Jenkins is also prone to drop deeper when his side needs support in the defensive phases of the game, operating in the space between the opposition defence and midfield and help trigger the press for the side. In attacking transitions, Jenkins likes to play on the shoulder of the last defender, using his pace and control to make goal scoring opportunities for himself or team mates.

Jordan has the opportunity to take the field against Knockbreda FC this coming Saturday in the Irish Cup, only a stones throw away from where he grew up. Your first opportunity to support him at Stangmore Park this season will be in the Mid Ulster Cup final on Tuesday the 7th of February.

Welcome to Stangmore Park, JJ.