Glentoran FC says it will defend its 'welcoming and inclusive' reputation against claims that Crusaders goalkeeper Gerard Doherty suffered sectarian abuse during Saturday's Irish Cup quarter-final.
The 38-year-old was sent off in the aftermath of the game, which Glentoran won 2-1 thanks to a late penalty.
Referee Andrew Davey confirmed that Doherty was dismissed for violent conduct after the official saw 'at least one' bottle being thrown towards the Glentoran supporters.
While admitting that his retaliation was 'completely unprofessional', Doherty was quoted by the Derry Journal referencing his belief that abuse from supporters "over steps the mark a bit when it turns into sectarian shouts".
However, the Oval club hit back at the article, stating that it will "not allow the reputation of our loyal supporters to be impugned by others, as a means of deflection from their own behaviour."
"Glentoran has always been renowned as a particularly welcoming and inclusive club and this well-deserved reputation will be rigorously maintained against any allegations," the statement continued.
"Our club has commenced an internal investigation into allegations that an object was thrown from the Sydenham End and will act accordingly based on the outcome."
Goalkeeper Doherty spoke of his regret over his actions.
“I have experienced plenty in football before and should have been big and bad enough to take it on the chin," he told the Derry Journal.
“However, the verbal abuse that you are sadly forced to get use to is not right. It was just frustration at the end. The abuse is bad enough but once they started throwing things on at me, I thought it was out of order and I reacted.
“Obviously my reaction is not warranted and I should have been professional enough to deal with the situation and just walk off but we are human beings.
“During the last five or 10 minutes of the game emotions were running high for a lot of people and it boiled over. That was evident to see at the end.”