Belfast Telegraph

Friday 1 August 2014

Big Ronnie may have the last laugh

When Gary Hamilton scored his first goal for Glentoran on Saturday, it would have been like a dagger to the heart of his former manager Ronnie McFall.

After all, their relationship, which was once so close when McFall brought him to Portadown from Blackburn, had gone sour last season with Hamilton leaving Shamrock Park for the Oval in the summer.

That Gary's goal was probably offside wouldn't have helped Ronnie's mood.

An equaliser for his Portadown team would have done, until, that is, Hamilton went and put the Glens in front again.

Lo and behold Gary McCutcheon scored his second of the game in the 90th minute to level things for the Ports.

Big Ronnie was happy again.

And no wonder with McCutcheon seen as Hamilton's replacement. Here the less celebrated Gary was equalling the feats of the glittering Gary who has been so brilliant this season, he merits a recall to the Northern Ireland squad.

There was more joy to come though for McFall and the Ports with Allan Smart heading home an injury time winner for the Mid-Ulster men, inflicting a first defeat of the campaign on the Glens. Class and character helped the Ports to victory.

And, I suspect, they did it for the boss as well, given that much of the pre-match talk had been about Ronnie facing his old player.

I like and respect both Hamilton and McFall. It's a pity they fell out but that's football. And the obvious feeling between them adds to what is becoming a sensational Irish League title race.

Before today's games, only three points split the Glens, Linfield and the Ports.

After a poor start from the Ports, many opposition fans were chuckling, suggesting McFall's time was finally up. How he would love to enjoy the last laugh. After Saturday's result, that is now a distinct possibility.

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