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Irish Cup final switches to The Oval but Ports still eye success

By Graham Luney

Chris Casement says Portadown are confident they can home in on Irish Cup glory on May 2.

The Ports will have to take on Glentoran in the final at The Oval after Windsor Park was deemed unsafe because of the crumbling Kop Stand.

Eddie Patterson's side have been handed home advantage by the Irish FA's Challenge Cup Committee after the Ballymena Showgrounds was ruled out as a potential venue. It is hoped that a crowd of around 5,000 will attend the final with ticketing arrangements confirmed next week.

There is also expected to be a heavy police presence at the ground before and after the match, which kicks off at 2.30pm.

This will be the first final staged at the Oval for 20 years, the last being Carrick Rangers v Linfield in 1995 which the Blues won 3-1.

Ports full-back Casement said: "I think there was always a chance of this happening and both clubs will bring a big support to the game so hopefully it will be a great occasion.

"People might think Glentoran will have an advantage but we will go there confident of winning the trophy and if we do ourselves justice and perform then the venue doesn't matter. We've competed well in league games at The Oval and beat Ballymena United in the semi-finals so there is no fear in us going there.

"We will be looking to get the ball down and play our football. Windsor would have been ideal but I'm happy going to The Oval and it's still a 50-50 game and about performing on the big occasion."

The Glentoran players will have to use the smaller dressing room allocated for the away team.

Irish FA spokesman William Campbell said: "Both clubs have accepted the situation.

"They accept outside of Windsor Park it is the best ground available for a game like this.

"We have a meeting on Monday with Belfast City Council and we will meet other agencies to discuss plans for the match including ticketing arrangements, which will be announced in due course."

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