Belfast Telegraph

Friday 1 August 2014

O'Hara out to end Portadown's long wait

Portadown's Vinny Arkins, Keith OHara and Darren Kelly

Anyone at Windsor Park today looking for a player with real Irish Cup pedigree look no further than Keith O'Hara.

The Portadown defender has had his fair sure of Irish Cup Final action – but most of it won't get him smiling when the memories come flooding back.

The former Northern Ireland Under-23 player has played in three deciders and it should have been a fourth but a shoulder injury ruled him out of the 2010 final when his team-mates lost 2-1 to Linfield.

However, O'Hara does cherish his winner's medal from the emphatic 5-1 win over Larne in the 2005 final.

Glentoran wiped the smile off his face with a 1-0 victory back in 2000 and it was a similar tale of woe in the 2002 decider when Linfield beat the Ports 2-1.

"I've been fortunate enough to play in a few Irish Cup Finals and they haven't always gone my way," said O'Hara.

"But they are always special occasions whether you win or lose and I was very disappointed to miss the 2010 final.

"As I didn't play in the last one there's an extra motivation for me to get to the final this time round.

"A number of our lads such as Ross Redman, Kevin Braniff, Tim Mouncey and Sean Mackle have played in an Irish Cup Final so there is plenty of experience there and knowledge required in terms if what you have to do to get there." Glentoran are standing in the way of O'Hara and co. in a mouth-watering semi-final at Windsor Park in tomorrow's early kick-off (12.30pm).

O'Hara, who helped fire the Ports to the league championship in 2002, admits the mid-Ulster men have failed to live up to expectations this season but there could be a silver lining on the horizon.

"Irish Cup semi-finals aren't always pretty – it's about doing what it takes to get the job done and get the result you need," he added.

"We have players like Gary Twigg, Kevin Braniff and Darren Murray who can score goals and we know ourselves that we have not performed the way we can this season.

"But this is a one-off fixture and a golden chance to get to a major final.

"The Glens have done very well this season despite the problems they have encountered.

"Ttheir performances have been good and they will view the cup as a chance to cheer up their long suffering supporters. They will not lie down but we have young, hungry players here who want to win things and you don't get many opportunities to make it to an Irish Cup final.

"These are the moments you have to seize."

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