Noel epitomised the spirit of Glentoran
Noel McCarthy, one of Glentoran’s stalwart defenders and a member of four Irish Cup Final teams of yesteryear has died. He was 88.
Noel, from Crossgar, possessed pace, solid defensive qualities, versatility and could score vital goals from his overlapping runs. Normally a left back he also figured at left half, centre half, and,on one occasion, took over in goal against Coleraine.
He appeared in the 1949, 51, 54 and 56 Irish Cup Finals; also won two League championship medals in 1951 and 53 as well as most of the other competitive honours in Northern Ireland football.
Noel was also selected by the Irish League against England, Scotland, Wales and the Republic of Ireland and twice came to being awarded a full Ireland
He was captain for seven seasons during Frank Grice’s managerial reign and in 1950-51 inspired them to a four-trophy haul — Irish League, Irish Cup, City Cup and Ulster Cup.
He played in 49 of the 50 matches scoring eleven goals — a remarkable ratio for a defender.
Glentoran could not have wished for a more loyal and principled player. He joined them in 1947, made his senior debut a year later and spent eleven seasons wearing the red, green and black.
One of his proudest moments was walking out with the team, captained by Tommy Hughes, to meet Isaac McDowell’s Linfield at the Oval on August 20, 1949 — the first game at the east Belfast stadium since it was virtually destroyed by German bombers in the 1941 German air raids.
Glenmen had achieved their seemingly impossible ‘Back To The Oval’ dream. It was the climax of a phenomenal and concentrated fund raising effort.
Those supporters were determined Glentoran would not die and Phoenix-like, it rose from the ashes as the province recovered after the horrors and trauma of the Second World War.
Today, as the Glens pass through a difficult transitional period, that same spirit must permeate this sporting institution which forever will be associated with east Belfast and its citizens.
The sympathy of all in football is extended to Noel’s family which includes current Glentoran player Andrew Waterworth.