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Michael Gault insists there's no home comforts in an Irish Cup final despite Windsor Park wins with Linfield

By Stuart McKinley

Published 01/05/2015

Fairytale finish: Portadown midfielder Michael Gault says playing at home in a final can work against teams
Fairytale finish: Portadown midfielder Michael Gault says playing at home in a final can work against teams

Michael Gault has claimed that there is no particular advantage in playing an Irish Cup final on your own ground - even though he never lost one on home turf.

All five of Gault's final appearances with Linfield came at their own Windsor Park ground.

This season's decider should have been played there too - and would have been only for the structural damage to the stadium's West Stand, which is now being demolished.

Having to make the best out of a bad situation, the Irish FA also had to find a solution to the problem in a short space of time and although the Ballymena Showgrounds and Ulster Rugby's Kingspan Stadium were both mentioned as possible venues, they plumped for The Oval, thus giving Glentoran home advantage in an Irish Cup final for the first time in 30 years.

That has also turned the tables on Gault, who will line up for Portadown against Eddie Patterson's side, having joined the Shamrock Park club following his release from Linfield last summer.

"Playing in the Irish Cup final at The Oval will be a bit different, but it was out of our hands," said Gault.

"I do think that playing at home in a final can actually work against you.

"It can be a motivating factor for the other team.

"Every one I played in for Linfield was close and just because you're playing on your own ground doesn't mean there is an advantage.

"Both teams will have a big support and once the match gets going all that will go out the window anyway.

"In a couple of those finals, particularly against Coleraine and Dungannon Swifts, I thought they were the better side on the day.

"Crusaders were 1-0 up against us late in the game too, but we managed to get the job done and that's what it will all be about again on Saturday.

"As players you just have to get on with it because there is a match to win.

"Come 2.30pm on Saturday it's 90 minutes with the Irish Cup at stake and we have to win it."

The midfield battle in tomorrow's showpiece could be pivotal, with Gault and partner Robert Garrett likely to face-off against Stephen McAlorum and Fra McCaffrey.

It is also expected to be a feisty tussle and Gault has revealed a secret that few Irish League followers would believe.

He and his Glentoran rival McAlorum are NOT sworn enemies - despite a number of on-field clashes over the years.

"People think that because we've been involved in a couple of things during matches that we hate each other, but that's not the case. Anything between us is left on the pitch - 100 per cent," said Gault.

"He's a top lad and I've been in his company a few times and we get on really well.

"I've been in his house, met his wife and we'd be in touch now and again, but come Saturday he'll be trying to kick lumps out of me and I'll be trying to kick lumps out of him - that's just the way it is."

The Ports' run to the final offers a chance to salvage something from a season that had promised so much, particularly as they had topped the Premiership table in December.

As far as Gault is concerned, if the Ports finish the season empty handed there will be no positives to take from the campaign.

"At the start of the season we had set out to win the league and we're disappointed that we didn't sustain a challenge for longer," said Gault.

"We need to win the Irish Cup now otherwise the season will be seen as a failure."

Belfast Telegraph

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