Belfast Telegraph

Portadown defender Chris Casement spared agony of his own Irish Cup final hell

By Graham Luney

Chris Casement has admitted that watching the Irish Cup final from the sidelines would have been emotional torture.

The Portadown defender looked on course to be a very frustrated spectator at The Oval when he was hit with a six-match ban for an alleged headbutt on Dungannon Swifts midfielder Terry Fitzpatrick.

But the right-back insisted he was innocent, fought his case and when the IFA Appeals Board quashed the suspension his nightmare was over.

The former Linfield ace can now put the uncertainty behind him and start focusing on one of the biggest games of his career.

Although Casement has been fortunate enough to play in two Irish Cup finals, players can never be sure they will get another opportunity to shine in the showpiece occasion.

And there's a deep longing at Portadown for the glittering prize as it hasn't arrived through the doors of Shamrock Park in 10 years.

"You say to yourself that you don't know how you are going to feel until the moment comes but it surely would have been torture for me to have to stand and watch my team in the Cup final, knowing I could have been out there," admitted the 27-year-old.

"I know players including William Murphy and David Magowan have been suspended for Cup finals before and when that happens you don't feel part of it.

"I can remember talking to Winkie about it at Linfield and while he was pleased we won you are on the periphery and not involved in the celebrations.

"I'm just delighted and relieved that a mistake has been put right and I'm allowed to play.

"I'm thrilled that I will never have to be in amongst the fans knowing I could be out there helping the lads and doing what the club wants me to do."

Casement, who played in Linfield's two Cup final victories over Crusaders, now hopes Portadown's young guns can shoot down Glentoran in their own backyard.

"There's a great blend of youth and experience at the club and the boys are buzzing after winning the Youth Cup last year," he added.

"Jordan Lyttle was captain for the team and he has really impressed, producing composed performances against Crusaders and Cliftonville when he was up against two of the best strikers in the league in Joe Gormley and Jordan Owens.

"He's very young for a centre-back as well, a position that requires a lot of strength and confidence.

"Credit to Ronnie (McFall) as well for showing faith in him and picking him.

"Managers will tend to show more faith in experienced players but Jordan has stepped up to the mark. The more experience he gets in and around the first-team dressing room the better he will become."

Glentoran may have 'home advantage' on Saturday but the Ports will show no fear.

Casement added: "We are more than a match for big teams in big games this season as we have proved against the champions Crusaders.

"As well as winning the Irish Cup there is the added incentive of qualifying for Europe so it's more than just a Cup final."

Belfast Telegraph


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