Belfast Telegraph

Kingspan should host Irish Cup final, not the Oval: Eddie Patterson

Glentoran 0-0 Portadown

By David Mason

Glentoran boss Eddie Patterson took a swipe at the Irish Football Association after moving next month's Irish Cup final - to The Oval!

The east Belfast men will have home advantage when they renew rivalries with Portadown in the May 2 showcase after the contest's traditional Windsor Park venue was ruled out due to the Kop stand's ongoing subsidence concerns.

Ballymena United's Showgrounds was mooted as a possibility along with Ulster Rugby's Kingspan Stadium but, following negotiations between both clubs and the IFA, the sport's governing body opted to 'keep the final in the family' and play it at the Oval.

"Some people might say it will give us an advantage, but I would call it more of a hindrance to be honest," said Patterson.

"When you look at it from the players' point of view - and the supporters - they like travelling to their cup finals at a neutral ground. For me, it's the showpiece match of the season.

"I still think all stops should have been pulled out to have the game played at the Kingspan Stadium. Yes, I give the IFA credit. They stated they made the decision based on 'keeping it (the final) in the football family', which has to be applauded.

"Let's see if they stick to the same principles when it comes to the international game against Romania? If they do. Brilliant. If they don't, they have an awful lot of explaining to do because I really don't see a big difference between the Irish Cup final and an international game."

Patterson insists had it been played at the home of Ulster Rugby, it would have opened the door for a lot of neutral supporters to sample the final at a totally new venue.

He added: "Glentoran offered the Oval simply to cut down on expenses of taking the game to Ballymena. Additional seating would have been required and that expense would have come out of the pockets of both Portadown and Glentoran.

"So our officials offered the Oval. If the IFA had decided to take it 'out of the football family' as they call it, then the Kingspan Stadium would have been the ideal venue.

"It would have allowed a full capacity of Glentoran support and of course it could have facilitated a full capacity from Portadown. It would also have opened the door for a lot of neutral supporters and a lot of families to come an see the game's biggest showpiece of the season."

The final now presents Glentoran with their only route to European qualification following the weekend's drab draw with the Ports.

"Yes, the European place is gone," added Patterson.

"I think Portadown still have an outside chance. We have to now concentrate on the cup final."

Opposite number Ronnie McFall, who was without a posse of his first team personnel due to injury, admits next week's game against high-flying Glenavon is now crucial.

"We are still in with a shout of European qualification, but the teams around us have a better goal difference," he said.

"It means that our game against Glenavon next week is a real pot boiler. The third place is still between three teams.

"Obviously, we were vastly under strength against Glentoran, but we hope to have a few back for what will be a really crucial fixture against our big rivals."

Glentoran: Morris, Garrett, Scullion, McCullough, Birney, McAlorum, Stewart, Addis, Gordon, Nelson, McKee. Substitutions: McCaffrey (McKee, 66 mins).

Portadown: Brennan, Casement, Redman, O'Hara, McMahon, Mackle, Mouncey, Oman, Twigg, Conaty, Garrett.

Substitutions: Lyttle (Oman, 6 mins), Murray (Conaty, 38 mins).

Man of the match: Billy Brennan (pictured)

Match rating: 5/10

Referee: Andrew Davey (Bangor)

Belfast Telegraph


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