Glentoran won their second Irish Cup in three years thanks to David Scullion’s strike nine minutes into the second half in a match packed full of controversy and talking points at The Oval.
The goal itself proved hugely debatable. Portadown’s Michael Gault broke through clear on goal, before being brought down by a William Garrett challenge. To the amazement of the Ports, neither referee Ross Dunlop nor the extra officials awarded the decision, and Glentoran punished the Ports complacency in the most emphatic of fashions.
A quick break up the pitch saw a flowing Glentoran move finished off by the hugely impressive Jordan Stewart slipping David Scullion through on goal, and the experienced winger finished with aplomb past David Miskelly. Scullion had eight years previously been on the losing Dungannon Swifts side against Linfield.
Not only were Portadown furious that no foul had been given on Gault – which would almost certainly have signalled a red card for Garrett – but that Glentoran goalkeeper Elliott Morris had picked up the subsequent back pass. The incredulity left both their players and management team seething.
Up until that point, the showpiece event had proved hugely underwhelming. The endless pouring rain and blustery wind ruined the chances of cohesive football by either side, and the first half proved uneventful.
Scullion’s goal – good enough to win any cup final – set the tone for the remaining 35 minutes, which were played out at a frenetic tempo. Only three minutes had elapsed from the goal when Portadown again were left fuming at the officials, when Gary Twigg’s header struck the hand of Glentoran defender Calum Birney inside the penalty area. Again, nothing was awarded.
Tempers between the two sets of players became frayed with the importance of the occasion – the first to be played away from Windsor Park in two decades – but ultimately both sides struggled to create any clear-cut goalscoring opportunities.
Curtis Allen’s lobbed effort on the break drifted just wide of Miskelly’s far post, while a leaping Gary Breen header produced a tremendous save from Elliott Morris just as it looked like the centre half had found the top corner.
But ultimately the Glens held on for a famous victory – one that may not be remembered by too many neutrals but will go down as another triumph against-the-odds by manager Eddie Patterson, who previously guided the East Belfast side to the Cup in 2013 with a final win over Cliftonville.
Glentoran: E Morris, W Garrett, M Kane, C Birney, S McAlorum, B Holland, N Henderson, S Gordon, J Stewart, C Allen, D Scullion.
Subs: F McCaffrey, A Hogg, J Addis, K Nelson, D McKee.
Portadown: D Miskelly, C Casement, R Redman, K O'Hara, G Breen, P McMahon, S Mackle, M McAllister, M Gault, G Twigg, R Garrett.
Subs: B Brennan, C Ramsey, D Murray, S Conaty, J Lyttle.