David Scullion scored the only goal of the game as Glentoran collected their twenty second Irish Cup at the Oval.
The winger's 54th minute strike came just a few seconds after Portadown were protesting about a controversial decision at the other end of the pitch. Ronnie McFall's players were convinced that Michael Gault was brought down by William Garrett as he raced through on goal and that the Glentoran defender should have been sent off. However, match official Ross Dunlop did not award the foul and Glentoran scored from the resulting passage of play.
It was Scullion who started the move as he played the ball to Jordan Stewart on the left and when his cross came into the area Scullion was on hand to bury a left-foot finish past Portadown keeper David Miskelly. The incidents seemed to inject some life into a dreary game on a rain soaked afternoon in East Belfast and while Glentoran celebrated The Ports continued to protest in vain.
In a first half completely devoid of any clear cut openings, it was Scullion who came closest to breaking the deadlock on 23 minutes when his 30 yard shot was just off target.
The second half opened in much the same manner as the first until the game sprang into life in the 54th minute. Ballybeen man William Garrett had a brief lapse in concentration as he under hit a backpass toward Elliot Morris. Portadown midfielder Michael Gault tried to seize upon his error but Garrett appeared to step across him and althugh any contact seemed minimal, it was enough to send the former Linfield skipper tumbling to the floor. Gault was enraged that referee Dunlop didn't give the foul and Gault's mood further deteriorated when the official waved play on despite Elliot Morris having picked up the backpass.
There was much debate when The Oval was selected as the venue for this year’s cup final after the discovery of structural damage to Windsor Park. The East Belfast stadium hosted the final of the 2012 County Antrim Shield but this was the first Irish Cup final to be played here since 1995. Going into the game Portadown were chasing what would be only their fourth Irish Cup win whilst their East Belfast counterparts were looking for a twenty second title. This was only the third final contested between the two sides during entire the 135th year history of the competition. The Glens emerged victorious from both previous encounters and rather ominously for Portadown they failed to score on both occasions (3-0 1990 & 1-0 2000).
This was Glentoran’s second Irish Cup final appearance in three seasons following their 2013 victory over Cliftonville, whilst Portadown last contested a final in 2010 when they narrowly lost 2-1 to Linfield. Both sides earned their respective places in the showpiece by overcoming some difficult fixtures along the way. Ronnie McFall’s side overcame Linfield in the quarter-finals whilst Eddie Patterson’s Glens defeated newly crowned champions Crusaders at the semi-final stage.
Not only was there some silverware on offer for two sides that had finished well off the pace in the Premiership but there was the added incentive of a place in next season’s Europa League qualifying rounds. Eddie Patterson's side signed off the season in style by lifting the cup in front of their own fans and those thousands of Glenmen who braved the elements to watch their heroes parade the trophy will be hoping that the team use this victory as a springboard for next season.
Photographs by Thomas Sewell
Highlights on BBC Sport NI HERE
Glentoran: Morris (capt), Holland, Birney, Garrett, Kane, McAlorum, Henderson, Gordon, Scullion, Stewart & Allen.
Subs: McCaffrey for Scullion, Addis for Henderson & Nelson for Stewart. Unused subs: Hogg & McKee.