Belfast Telegraph

The Verdict: Eddie's final calls spot on... unlike the ref

By Steven Beacom

For Glentoran the glory, the celebrations and more Irish Cup success. For Portadown frustration, anger and thoughts of what might have been.

While in years to come Glens fans will remember singing in the rain as Eddie Patterson's players ran around the Oval with smiles on their faces and a trophy in their arms, Portadown followers will recall how referee Ross Dunlop cost them the 2015 final.

Refereeing standards in the Irish League have been questioned for too long now, and on Saturday over 8,000 fans at the east Belfast ground and many more on television watched as the officials made a mess of local football's showpiece game.

In the second half Dunlop should have sent off Glentoran's William Garrett for felling Portadown's Michael Gault who was clear on goal and Ronnie McFall's men were also unfortunate not to have been awarded a penalty after Calum Birney handled in the area.

In between those two controversial incidents the Glens scored a superb goal that ultimately proved decisive.

There is no guarantee that Gault would have scored had he not been brought down. You couldn't even be sure that a dismissal for Garrett would have led to a Portadown victory or that the mid-Ulster men would have scored the penalty, but they should have been given the opportunity to find out.

Dunlop and his assistants made sure they didn't with a poor display. They were as bad as the awful weather.

Cup finals are normally handed over to referees who have put in the best performances over the course of the campaign. If Dunlop's the best, just how woeful is the worst?

Portadown can feel hard done by. I'd add, though, that on occasions they made wrong calls too, especially in the last 20 minutes when they were chasing an equaliser.

Too often their players failed to take the right option in attacking areas. Only once did Glentoran goalkeeper Elliott Morris have to show his undoubted class, saving brilliantly from a Gary Breen header, with Patterson's solid defence giving little away to the much vaunted Portadown strikeforce.

Overall the final wasn't a classic. The first half was a shocker with the players unable to shine in wet and windy conditions. As they entered the dressing rooms at the break the score was Glentoran 0 Portadown 0 Weather 1.

Thankfully there was more entertainment and drama in the second period, not to mention all that controversy.

Seconds after Dunlop missed Garrett tangle with Gault, the Glens moved swiftly up the other end to produce a genuine piece of attacking quality when David Scullion swapped passes with the dangerous Jordan Stewart, before displaying composure inside the box to provide a clinical finish.

Credit to Scullion for the strike and to his manager for selecting him because by the player's own admission he had been off the pace in the previous month. Patterson had a hunch that on the big occasion Scullion would come up with the goods and it paid off.

What the Glens boss has achieved at the Oval in the past three years, winning two Irish Cups, is a staggering achievement when you think of the financial restraints he has been working under. He merits more support, financial and otherwise, from the board.

For another final victory Patterson and his Glentoran team deserve great credit.

Shame we can't say the same about the officials. Video replays anyone?

Belfast Telegraph


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