Belfast Telegraph

Pat McGibbon wants Portadown post full-time as he prepares to step into the breach after McFall departure

Portadown 2-3 Lurgan Celtic

By David Mason

Former international defender Pat McGibbon is expected to move into the Portadown managerial seat on a temporary basis following the dramatic resignation of Ronnie McFall at the weekend.

Club physiotherapist McGibbon, the former Manchester United centre-back, has declared an interest in the post, stating: "I'll certainly help out in training, or step in on a temporary capacity if the board asked me.

"I'll be happy to make a contribution. Obviously, it will take a few days for the dust to settle. Everything is a bit up in the air at the moment after Ronnie's resignation.

"The aim would be to stabilise things in the short term - the next few days will be important. But I have my UEFA Pro Licence, so a return to management is something I have in mind."

McFall's assistant Kieran Harding has also quit, but it is understood that coach Trevor Williamson remains at the club and, with Coleraine due at Shamrock Park next week, there is a possibility he could share the workload with McGibbon.

It was a sorry way for McFall to end his association with the club. He again ran the gauntlet of abuse from irate supporters after the Ports hit a new low.

His shock departure deprived Lurgan Celtic of the headlines they fully deserved following an historic victory in their first Irish Cup quarter-final.

Goals from Aaron Haire and Shea Conaty appeared have the tie done and dusted, especially as the Ports were reduced to 10 men after 32 minutes when Mark McAllister was dismissed for inexcusably lashing out at John Cochrane, who was forced out of the game with a nasty facial wound.

However, the Ports came roaring back and looked to have forced extra-time courtesy of goals from Marcio Soares and Sean Mackle. But when skipper Keith O'Hara stuck out a leg to trip Haire deep into injury time, McFall's decision to quit was confirmed.

Raymond Fitzpatrick stepped up to confidently send David Miskelly the wrong way from the spot, sending the Celtic fans into raptures.

Delighted Celtic boss Colin Malone, said: "We showed great character to come back and win it, I'm thrilled for the boys. We had to dig deep because Portadown put us under pressure in the second half, especially when they pulled back level.

"They were putting a lot of balls into the box, it was backs to the wall stuff. But the boys worked their socks off and got what they deserved.

"I knew if we got to half-time, either level or in front, the Portadown supporters would do the rest - and they didn't disappoint. They had a right go at the players coming off."

With a glamour semi-final clash with Linfield looming on Friday, April 1, Malone believes the pressure will all be on David Healy's team.

"It's absolutely brilliant for us," he added.

"We had already written ourselves into the record books by reaching the quarter finals for the first time. Now we have a semi-final against the Blues to negotiate. We'll be underdogs, but that suits us."

In the aftermath of his team's celebrations, Malone was shocked to learn that McFall had quit and explained: "I didn't even get the chance to shake his hand. I know the supporters were really hard on him and the players, both at half time and at the finish, but I really didn't think it would come to Ronnie resigning.

"He has been one of the Irish League's great character for many years and he'll be missed."

PORTADOWN: Miskelly, Casement, Redman, O'Hara, Mackle, McAllister, Oman, Lowry, Gault, Garrett, Soares (Breen, 78 mins). Unused subs: Marron, Ramsey, Parker, Judge.

Lurgan Celtic: McCorry, Wilson, Rodgers, Hutchinson, Cochrane (McCabe, 37 mins), Malone, Conaty, Barton, Fitzpatrick, Haire, McVeigh. Unused subs: S Devlin, N Devlin, Toland, Lavery.

Man of the match: Stephen Hutchinson

Match rating: 7/10

Referee: Raymond Hetherington (Dungannon)

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